Gigli (2003) (part 7 of 8)

Cut to Gigli and Ricki sitting in the car, and Gigli is checking his face in the rear view mirror. Luckily, Ben refrains from opening his mouth. He tells Ricki that he has a fantasy, to which she replies, “About making it with a guy?” Damn, is this movie trying to give me as many nightmares as possible?

Gigli explains further, his mouth resembling Jean Cretien‘s the whole time. The fantasy is actually about “going somewhere really, really clean. No scumbags telling me what to do, nobody yelling at you [sic] all the time, a place you can just… be. Be yourself. No bad stuff.” Well, there is a way to do that, and it’s called getting a real job instead of hiring yourself out to gangsters. If this monologue was supposed to make me finally sympathize with the guy, it crashed and burned, because he could easily leave this whole life behind and become a model or something.

Just as things threaten to get gross again, Louis pulls up with a pissy look on his face. Actually, come to think of it, that’s really the only face Lenny Venito has. Louis tells them, “We have a visitah from Noo Yawk!” and has them follow him.

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We cut to them meeting this visitor, and, oh, dear God. Chalk up another Embarrassed Actor for this movie, as the visitor, Mr. Starkman, is played by Al Pacino. And with a ponytail, too, just like in his other bomb Revolution. Unlike Christopher Walken, it’s easy to see how Pacino got roped into this movie, because Martin Brest directed his Oscar-winning performance in Scent of a Woman. Pacino must be into method acting, since he’d have to be just as blind as his character in that film to accept this part. Here, for example, is his first line:

Mr. Starkman: Hello. Welcome. Nice to meet you. Finally. Nice to meet you too. Come. Wow, look at you. Beautiful. Come on in. Here. Grab a couch. I say everything twice. In, in. Sit, sit.

It really is a depressing experience to hear that kind of stuff coming out of the mouth of Michael Corleone. The whole double-talk thing, by the way, is never referenced again in his dialogue. I guess I should be thankful, but since it was probably meant as this guy’s big character trait, that’s not really a good sign.

Caption contributed by Albert

“Just when I thought I was out of doing Martin Brest pictures, they pull me back in!”

Starkman elaborates that he’s the guy who Brian’s brother is prosecuting, but his explanation of this really dances all over the place to the point where he’s babbling. Honestly, Pacino’s performance here is actually pretty good, as you’d expect from him, but the kind of dialogue he’s forced to deliver is down there on par with Bennifer’s.

Things degenerate from here, as Starkman starts rambling about thumbs. He goes through a whole routine about whether they’re technically fingers or not, to which the audience is clearly supposed to make a connection to that other thumb thing that happened earlier. This could have been an effective scene, except that Brest is quite obviously trying to emulate the “tasty burger” scene from Pulp Fiction.

For those who haven’t seen it, two hitmen come into an apartment and intimidate the guys there by chatting with them, all the while helping themselves to their breakfast before finally getting down to business. The reason that scene was so effective, however, was because we had no idea who anyone was, and we didn’t know if what they were talking about had anything to do with why they were there. Thus, the audience was extremely apprehensive because we didn’t know what would happen next. Here, we do know exactly what’s going on, and the way Starkman rambles about thumbs just makes me want to scream, “Get to the point already!”

Starkman then sees Louis is eating something, and makes a comment about how Louis eats no matter what. Just to make the rip-off as clear as possible, I guess. He then pulls a gun out of Louis’ coat, saying he can’t be meeting with armed men while he’s under investigation. So, this means Louis acted like an idiot and let Starkman take away his gun for no other reason than to put a gun in Starkman’s hand. This is really all it comes down to, but once again Starkman rambles on about intimidation coming from inside and crap like that for a while.

Finally, he asks Louis if he’d like to go to medical school. Suddenly, Starkman lifts the gun and shoots Louis right in the head, splattering blood and brain matter all over an aquarium behind him. Starkman quips, “Students there can always use something to learn on!” After hearing that, I’ll take dialogue about bulls and cows any day.

Caption contributed by Albert

Okay, here’s a fun puzzle: What happens to the bullet between the back of Louis’ skull and the fish tank?

Starkman babbles some more about not giving a shit, while we get a loving close-up of the fish in the aquarium eating pieces of Louis’ brain. That’s an image no romantic comedy is complete without, am I right?

Starkman finally gets down to business, asking Gigli how the bleeding was when he cut off the thumb. After a lame joke (at least I think it’s a joke) where Gigli thinks he’s talking about Louis, Gigli gives this brilliant response: “Bleeding was fine.” Wow. Quite the bluffer.

Predictably, Starkman is pretty incredulous at that response. He goes on to destroy the whole film by revealing he could have beaten the prosecutor’s rap without any help. And, as you’d expect, kidnapping Brian has only made things worse. That’s right, the entire plot of this movie was predicated on the two leads acting like total morons. Nice writing, Mr. Brest.

Caption contributed by Albert

It’s Finding Nemo 2! Nemo’s back, and this time he’s hungry for human brains! Muuuust… eeeat… braaaaaaains…

Starkman then has some grammar problems of his own. He asks Louis’ corpse, “You didn’t think all hell wouldn’t break loose?” when he really means the opposite. He gets back to the whole fascinating thumb discussion, saying it doesn’t matter whether it’s a finger or not. Well, that just rendered a whole bunch of dialog meaningless.

Caption contributed by Torgo's Hand

“Damn. I shoulda shot you on a less expensive sofa.”

Starkman chews them out for a while about sending the wrong thumb. You know, if Starkman plans to do anything about this, why doesn’t he just get it over with and end this torture already? As befits his new bitch status, Gigli just sits impotently on the couch, leaving Ricki to put up some kind of defense. Basically, she says that the order to cut off Brian’s thumb was stupid and they had a “professional prerogative” not to obey it. That doesn’t seem to be the best way to win this guy over, but whatever.

She actually turns this simple statement into a whole monologue by itself, then suggests that, somehow, killing Brian would make everything all better. Bizarrely, the same happy plink-plink music that played behind Gigli sharing his fantasy is heard here.

Ricki asks Starkman to let them take care of things, and if he’s still not happy, they can talk again. Oh please, no. Starkman cocks his head, and that’s the end of the scene and, thankfully for him, the end of Al Pacino’s appearance in this movie.

Caption contributed by Albert

In tonight’s Recreation of a Expressionist Painting, Al Pacino reenacts Munch’s The Scream!

As Gigli and Ricki drive back to the apartment, Ricki says her real plan is to just drop Brian off at the mental hospital and get out of town. She says certain people would really want to get them after that, which I have no problem with. Gigli does some rambling of his own, specifically about how this whole thing is a sign for him to get out of the whole crime business. Hey, just like Jules in Pulp Fiction.

Unfortunately, Brian has decided to start rapping again. But compared to “Baby Got Back”, anything coming out of his mouth has got to be better. Right? Nope. This time he sings “I Need Love” by LL Cool J [!]. Mr. Brest, you are really reaching here. That song’s even more ancient than “Baby Got Back”. What’s next, a Sugarhill Gang medley?

Brian’s rap prompts Gigli to asks him if he has a girlfriend. What do you think, genius? Gigli encourages him to do whatever he’s most afraid of, including going up to a girl and saying the most clichéd pickup lines in history. Then he actually talks Brian through saying stuff like “Nice weather we’re having.” Hey, Ben, why don’t you tell him about the animal crackers routine? That one’s a keeper!

At a gas station, Gigli once again asks Ricki’s real name. I never thought I’d say this, but it really is sad seeing Ben Affleck stuck doing low-rent versions of his own past lines, this one being his big love monologue from Chasing Amy. Ricki turns him down, saying she could never be what he wants. Wait, I thought she was the one with that problem.

Back on the road, Gigli asks Ricki where she’s going after this, and she says, just as everyone is expecting, “Somewhere clean.” Bizarrely, she follows this up with, “You know, Northern California.” [!!] She asks him to drop her off on the Pacific Coast Highway, I guess so that Starkman can easily find her once he finds out what’s going on.

Gigli tells Brian he’s taking him home, but predictably Brian now has a touch of the Stockholm Syndrome and is pretty put off about it. Then there’s an agonizingly long scene of the three of them just driving along and not saying anything.

Eventually, they reach the Pacific Coast Highway and Brian breaks up the monotony when he sees a film crew on the beach. At long last, a stupid plot thread is wrapped up when he points retard-style and yells that the Baywatch is open. There’s more strange music for the occasion, this time a choral piece that seems more appropriate for a big religious awakening.

Caption contributed by Albert

Yes, Brian. You are a loser.

Gigli doesn’t want to stop the car, but Ricki tells him to stop the car, and Brian tells him to stop the car, and the whole conflict just goes on much, much longer than it needs to. Once they’ve already passed the beach, there’s suddenly a cut to them walking towards it. Okay, that could have been handled a little better.

Ryan Lohner

Ryan lives in Sparta, New Jersey, a quaint little burg without much for kids to do except go to the movies. Thus began a lifelong love affair, as even back then he grew to love examining why a film worked, or didn't. He is a member of the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society, and currently studying for a Master's Degree in Library and Information Science. His hobbies include running, piano, and annoying people with that damn lowercase forum user name.

Multi-Part Article: Gigli (2003)

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