By Adam Lippe

15524__gigli_l1Wouldn’t it be easy to call it the worst movie ever made? The bandwagon already has a seat saved just for me, and it comes with a complimentary bong hit of conformity and acceptance.

Does Gigli have anything to recommend in it? Not really. It’s an utter miscalculation, and as the movie goes on, it gets much worse. The music keeps trying to set you up to tug at your heartstrings, but it is so shameless and obvious, and tonally wrong.

The plot is a sort of mishmash of dramedy cliches, inept mob goon Affleck is asked by his boss to kidnap a retarded kid who is the brother of a federal prosecutor about to prosecute a mob player. The movie skims over the details distractingly. Affleck shows up at a home for the mentally challenged and simply walks out with the brother and no one stops him. They don’t even bother with a scene where Affleck has to outsmart, trick, or threaten anyone. He talks to the guy, Brian, and the next scene, Brian is in Affleck’s car.

gigli6Then the whole thing turns into a sitcom with cursing, as each plot contrivance enters the picture. Lopez shows up at Affleck’s house, and explains that she’s there basically because Affleck’s boss doesn’t trust him and so the majority of the movie is spent at Affleck’s house babysitting Brian. Brian is not a character but a narrative convenience. He’s a dorky white kid in his early twenties who talks like a curly handed Rain Man who slept with Sean Penn from I Am Sam. He is obsessed with Baywatch, not so much the show itself, but the idea of the show, the notion of the beach and women in bikinis (he says at one point that it makes his penis sneeze) and the other things that come with it. Several times he begins to sing along with early 90’s rap (Baby Got Back, Ghetto Bastard) and refers to it as old school, which I guess is supposed to be cute, because he’s, well, retarded. He’s a constant pain, wanting to be read to before going to sleep, calling Australian weather lines because he likes the recorded woman’s voice, and always wanting to eat. But whenever Affleck or Lopez need him to be quiet or leave the room because there is a danger of being found out, he doesn’t make a peep. At one point Christopher Walken, playing a cop investigating the kidnapping, shows up to question Affleck and deliver a patented weirdo monologue. Brian is asked to go into a separate bedroom and doesn’t make a sound. Walken doesn’t do anything special and doesn’t justify a viewing as some of the more lenient have suggested. When they visit Affleck’s mother’s house, Brian plays adorably clueless. Lainie Kazan completely embarrasses herself in the mother role (which begins with a close-up on her ass as Affleck injects her with insulin), and does every Italian cliche she can think of in 5 minutes of screen time, cheek squeezing, an incessant need to feed, etc.

The movie is never unwatchably bad until the end, most of the time you’re just watching something that’s never good, there’s no wincing or cringing involved. But the conclusion goes on and on and is sappy and silly and makes no sense, especially a scene where they drop Brian of to be a dancer on the set of a Baywatch clone.The whole Lopez as a lesbian thing plays more as a calculation to provide conflict rather than an honest portrayal. But Lopez is more convincing as a rug muncher than as a hired killer, and Affleck seems more of an idiot than an actual threat. It’s what places the movie in complete fantasyland, you never buy the fact that these people would kill anyone.

gigli5The critics who complain that the movie has all the wrong scenes for a comedy, Lopez’s lesbian lover barges into Affleck’s house and mistakes him for her new boyfriend and slits her wrist in jealousy, clearly weren’t paying attention. That scene isn’t played for laughs. And in fact most of the movie is aiming for simple geniality, and an overall pleasantness, than guffaws. That it doesn’t succeed, hardly earns it the title of worst movie of the year (and it isn’t in my bottom five so far) but it isn’t really worth seeing either, because it doesn’t do anything spectacularly badly to become a camp classic.

Oh and Al Pacino’s cameo late in the film as the gangster trying to avoid prosecution, is amusing only because he clearly was shot separately from the other actors and edited to make it look like he was ranting and raving at them.

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By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

Black Dynamite has nothing new to say about Blaxploitation films, it just does a decent job of copying what an inept [...]

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Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.