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the agony booth

Gigli
2003
Posted on: Feb 14, 2004.
Gigli (2003)
An Agony Booth MEGA RECAP! It's an Agony Booth MEGA RECAP!
One movie, multiple recappers!
...And it's also an Agony Booth
Valentine's Day Special!
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
The Cast of Characters:
Larry Gigli (Ben Affleck). A large-headed, blank-faced, overacting mob hitman. Ultimately ends up Chasing J-Lo. His last name rhymes with "really", as in, he only "really" has an Italian accent for one-fourth of his scenes. The least convincing thug in movie history.
Her name was Rochelle, but everyone knew her as Ricki (Jennifer Lopez). A New Age-y mob hitwoman who studies ancient martial arts, wears hip-hugging jeans, and drinks herbal tea. And, oh yeah, she's also a lesbian, but that doesn't stop Gigli from hooking up with her. The second least convincing thug in movie history.
Louis (Lenny Venito). Gigli's mob boss. Doing his best impression of SNL's Jim Breuer doing an impression of Joe Pesci. Hatches the dumbest criminal plot since Cain slew Abel thinking God wouldn't find out. Has Gigli and Ricki kidnap a prosecutor's brother in order to... nah, it's better if you find out for yourselves.
Brian (Justin Bartha). The prosecutor's brother, who is, as the movie takes every opportunity to remind us, mentally handicapped. Afflicted with Tourette's Syndrome and a severe case of Rain Man-itis, he's a Noble Retard, at least when he isn't jerking off to Australian weather forecasts or episodes of Baywatch.
Det. Stanley Jacobellis. Christopher Walken teleports in from his home planet to do his impression of Christopher Walken. Breaks all his lines down to their constituent syllables and puts random inflections on each. Offers forth one plot point before being dragged back to the set of Kangaroo Jack.
Gigli's Mom (Lainie Kazan). Hollywood's current ethnic mother of choice. She plays Gigli's Big Fat Obnoxious Momma with repulsive gusto, revealing her dislike of visible panty lines and her willingness to experiment—ugh—with other women.
Mr. Starkman (Al Pacino). A mob boss who likes to turn all the dials on his Sudden Rage Meter up to eleven. Shows up for one scene to, basically, point out how stupid the movie's plot is and how dumb all of its characters are.
The article continues after this advertisement...

The critics rave about Gigli!

"Gigli is a rigli, rigli bad movie."
Bruce Newman, Mercury News

"Nearly as unwatchable as it is unpronounceable."
Manohla Dargis, Los Angeles Times

"Gigli doesn't need a review; it needs an inquest. The movie is dead on arrival."
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

"If you thought you could never, ever feel sorry for Jennifer Lopez, buy a ticket to Gigli."
Colin Covert, Star Tribune

"So catastrophic I expected the audience to adopt the 'brace' position in the stalls."
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

"Scene after scene makes you want to take a shower."
Jonathan Foreman, New York Post

"You have to wonder why stars whose faces adorn nearly every magazine cover in America would attach themselves to a movie that, by all indications, was originally scripted in crayon. Careerwise, this is the equivalent of a bungee jump with a cord that's a bit too long."
Bill Muller, Arizona Republic

"But here [Affleck and Lopez] are, in torturous closeups, on a mall screen near you, reminding the world how superficial, badly advised, greedy for fame and fanfare, desperate for money and attention, and pathetically incompetent they both are in the only two things that matter in career longevity—craft and talent."
Rex Reed (Myron Breckinridge himself!), New York Observer

"Gigli has no story, no redeeming characters that anyone could care about, and the actors are all on autopilot, completely soaked with their own vanity. It's as if everyone in Gigli thought that all they had to do was show up. The problem here is that no one even shows up."
David Gore, Film Threat

"It's bad in that unwinking way where you can't even claim that a studio forced its hacking in the editing room. It plays straight through its absurdity and never stumbles into clarity. Film students can examine it and use it as a counterpoint to why films work at all. Maybe they can attach a pretentious film school-like subtext to it. But I doubt it. It's that bad."
Erik Childress, eFilmCritic

"Ach. Oy. Woe and poo, bleccch and uck! ZZZZZ-zzz."
Stephen Hunter, Washington Post

...and the critics rave about Ben Affleck in Gigli!

"The basilisk-eyed, tissue-voiced Affleck must strain for personality..."
Michael Atkinson, Village Voice

"Affleck preens like a thick-headed pretty-boy yo-yoing between personality extremes...a gangster wannabe with a short fuse and delusions of adequacy..."
Sean Axmaker, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Affleck already grappled with love for a lesbian in Chasing Amy. The difference here is a significant drop-off in IQ points. Affleck plays Larry Gigli like Edward Burns on stupid pills."
Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

"Ben...has the blockiest head in movies next to Ted Danson, James Van Der Beek, and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's Monster. The Affleck effect is akin to a black hole, sucking all the energy and life out of every scene he's in."
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Gigli is such a dumbbell—and Affleck is so distressingly convincing as a dumbbell—that watching his character evolve is like watching mold grow."
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

"The guy is lesbian kryptonite. Like Chasing Amy first posited, and Gigli now conclusively proves, no gay woman on the planet is immune to Affleck's studly charms."
Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

Ben and Jen, Jen and Ben. J-Fleck, B-Lo. Bennifer, Jennifleck. So, who else was bummed out when they finally called it quits? Call me full of childish naïveté, but I really thought they'd be the ones to make it.

I mean, if a bland, charisma-less actor-screenwriter who somehow won an Oscar for a dippy melodrama, and an overpaid former Fly Girl who makes forgettable movies and once sang the fascinating couplet "I'm real / Even on Oprah" can't make things work, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez were one of the most overexposed celebrity couples of all time. And despite what the two will tell you, it wasn't the media's fault.

Because even as they were steadily griping about all the attention they received, there they were, getting an hour-long primetime interview from Pat O'Brien. And there was Ben, on Celebrity Poker Showdown. And there was Jen, chatting for an hour with Oprah. And they are, cavorting on a cigarette boat together in the video for "Jenny from the Block"! And there's Ben on Project Greenlight 2! And look, Jen is with him on Project Greenlight 2! Isn't that just awesome?

By comparison, they made those attention whores Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore look like they were in permanent seclusion deep inside a frozen glacier.

I still say there was absolutely no reason on earth the two had to hook up in the first place. Lopez can easily find a vapid pretty boy to wrap around her finger (In fact, she had already found two—Chris Judd and that first husband no one can remember). And as attractive as Lopez is, you can't tell me Affleck doesn't have hordes of former Playboy Playmates and aspiring supermodels to choose from. If you ask me, they could have easily avoided the firestorm of publicity by just not dating each other, at all, ever.

Don't even think of telling me it was true love. It wasn't. If you think the two were actually in love, if you think there was really and truly a strong connection between the two of them, then just watch how much chemistry they have in Gigli.

Oh yeah. Gigli. The reason you're reading this in the first place. If you haven't been meditating on a mountain in Tibet for the last year or so, odds are you've heard all about Gigli but have yet to be bothered to actually see it. Don't feel bad. It takes a truly perverse soul to read all those sneering, scathing reviews and still want to watch it. Or, to be more precise, it takes seven perverse souls.

That's right, it's time once again for an Agony Booth MEGA RECAP! If you weren't around for the last MEGA RECAP of Armageddon, here's how it works:

One lucky bastard recaps the first few scenes in the movie. After about fifteen minutes or so, that person passes the recap off to the next person, who takes over from there. The recap gets handed off from person to person until the whole thing is finished, without any one of us actually having to endure the entire thing.

I couldn't woo back everyone who participated in the last MEGA RECAP (Would you believe Gigli scared off people who were eager to take on Armageddon?), but this time around, we have another great crew on board. Your starting lineup is:

  • Newcomer Jason Sartin, also known as posthumanbeing in the forums, who wrote page 2,
  • Newcomer David Bowgett, AKA DaveJB in the forums, who wrote page 3,
  • Returning guest recapper Jessica Ritchey, AKA Juniper (page 4),
  • Returning guest recapper Ed Harris, AKA Genrewriter (page 5),
  • Yours truly (page 6),
  • Returning guest recapper Ryan Lohner, AKA Ryan (page 7),
  • And returning guest recapper Torgo's Hand as himself (page 8)!

And note that everybody helped out on providing those funny, funny captions you see below each image. For the first time ever, I've attributed each caption to the individual who wrote it. Just hold your mouse over the image, and as long as you're not using a crappy browser, you should see a tooltip letting you know who contributed the caption.

But, hey, not only is it a MEGA RECAP, but it's also the second annual Valentine's Day Special! As you may recall, last year I spent some time with Moment by Moment, a deadly-dull romance between two totally miscast leads, John Travolta and Lily Tomlin. Theirs was a pairing without equal, at least in its complete lack of passion. Until now. Moment by Moment has a new neighbor in the No-Chemistry Zone, and its name is Gigli.

This is easily the shortest span of time from a movie's release to appearing on this website—a little over six months. As you can tell, I'm usually anything but rash when it comes to picking movies. I prefer to wait until a film has stood the test of time and proven itself to truly be the worst of the worst.

But this one, friends.... this one is going to stand the test of time. Mark my words. Like Chris Tucker said in Friday, remember it, write it down, take a picture. Gigli is one of the worst of the worst.

Oh, I know what you're thinking. Can it really be that bad?

You'll get your definitive answer by the end of this recap, but I will say this: Even though critics had a field day when Gigli was released (the only positive review in a major publication came from Amy Dawes in Variety—she was fired soon after), I have yet to come across a negative review that wasn't completely and totally accurate about the content of this film.

Okay, so it's not the worst movie of all time. It's nowhere near as excrutiating as, say, Monster A-Go Go or Red Zone Cuba. And I'm sure it can't be any worse than having your eyeballs plucked out with rusty salad tongs. But it really does suck—really.


—"Ben, are you gonna do the shitty movie with me?" —"Mmmm-hmmm, of course, shnookhums." —"And do you mind if I act as little as possible so nobody remembers I was in this movie and they all just focus on how horrible you were?" —"Anything you say, shnuggle bear."

 

What makes Gigli so bad? So many things, but let's start with the title. I don't know why you'd give your movie an obscure, unpronounceable title like Gigli, but writer-director Martin Brest might as well have stood in front of theaters and flipped the bird at each and every member of the ticket buying public.

And as bad as the title is, the casting is worse. To start things off, we have Ben Affleck as a tough, mad-dog street thug. See? You're laughing already. Now, just contemplate Jennifer Lopez as an equally tough thug, but one who spouts Zen Buddhist philosophy, reads Being Peace to unwind at night, and practices yoga, and you're sure to be rolling on the floor. And just to make sure you really bust a gut, she's also supposed to be playing a lesbian.

But wait, the script is even worse! There's a crime plot in here, somewhere, but it's so insubstantial I can't even write it down without the words vanishing off the screen. But ask yourself this: If you wanted a federal prosecutor to back off on pressing charges against you, would you kidnap one of his family members? And would you then drive all around Los Angeles with the kidnapped family member in the backseat of your convertible? In broad daylight? With the top down? If you answered "yes" to all of these questions, you too could find your dream job in the mob. At least, the mob as depicted in Gigli.

This movie has no clue what it wants to be, a crime drama or a romantic comedy, but either way, it fails completely. It has a plot that never really starts, and yet never ends, either. Gigli is like a long, unfunny setup to a punch line that you never reach. And the script so shamelessly cribs from other, better movies like Rain Man, Pulp Fiction, Chasing Amy, and Martin Brest's own Midnight Run that the WGA probably has no idea who to send royalties to.

And just think, this is the movie where Ben and Jen originally met. That's right. On top of every other sin it commits, Gigli was ultimately responsible for unleashing the horror that was Bennifleck-lo on the world. (A horror that has not completely ended—the two will again appear together in Kevin Smith's Jersey Girl, due out this spring.) If that's not reason enough for it to be recapped here, then I don't know what is.

Regardless, thanks to Armageddon and Anaconda, Ben and Jen will get one more bit of overexposure, because they're both now on the list of Agony Booth Repeat Offenders.

And with that, it's on with the recap!

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