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Movie Review

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez share screen time in Gigli, an overworked, underdeveloped crime drama. Affleck plays Larry Gigli ("It rhymes with really," he insists), a supposedly hardened Los Angeles hit man. Lopez plays his female, lesbian, counterpart (Ricki).

Larry's been instructed to kidnap a boy in order to put the squeeze on a federal prosecutor who's related to the lad. But since his "boss" doesn't trust him, he contracts Ricki to make sure Larry does the job right. The two become fast enemies. Or is it friends? The movie's not really clear on that score. In fact, the movie's not clear about very much at all. The whys and wherefores of the kidnapping are largely left untouched. What we do know is that the captive is a teenage boy named Brian who displays a Rain Man-style mental illness. But even he is just there for color. Gigli's not really about psychological drama, or even organized crime. It's about Affleck and Lopez talking sex, exercising the f-word and cashing in on their tabloid stardom to sell movie tickets.

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Positive Elements

It defies the hardness of heart required in the assassin-for-hire profession, and thus makes Larry and Ricki terribly unbelievable characters, but it's worth mentioning that neither of them has any stomach for violence. [Spoiler Warning] They talk up their "fearsome" abilities, but when they're faced with the task of chopping off Brian's finger, they both balk. And later, when they're assigned to kill him, they refuse (as witnesses to a murder late in the film, both gasp and squeal). Ricki is rightfully convinced that becoming angry is a "stupid" strategy when confronted by an enemy. Larry expresses extreme dissatisfaction with his life in organized crime. "In case you're interested," he tells Ricki, "my life sucks. Stick a fork in me, I'm done." Later, he says he wants to make major changes in his life, "go somewhere clean" and quit his murderous career.

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Ricki is a lesbian. Larry is straight. Therefore, nearly every detail of the script is devoted to one grand goal: making Ricki "switch teams." Larry goes on and on about his sexual prowess, trying to impress her. Ricki responds by going on and on about a woman's sexuality and why she has chosen to avoid men. She also makes it clear that the only way she can think of him as attractive is to pretend that he, too, is gay. Their descriptive language is foul beyond what this review can even hint at. Frequent, vulgar references are made to gay, straight, oral, group and solo sex. Their twisted relationship does ultimately culminate with sex, and while the images splashed onscreen are not unduly graphic, their implications are. The scene is also protracted by an ongoing sexual conversation. Elsewhere, Ricki is seen showering (through a steamy glass door). She's fond of sleazy outfits with high hemlines and low necklines. Brian makes numerous sexually explicit remarks and is fixated on the scantily clad girls of Baywatch.

Violent Content

In an appallingly unnecessary scene, Ricki's girlfriend walks into the kitchen, takes out a butcher knife and slashes both of her wrists. The camera never blinks as the blade slices through skin and blood begins to course down her arms. Larry saws a corpse's thumb off with a plastic butter knife. A man shoots another through the forehead. Again, the camera refuses to turn away as gore splatters behind him and blood oozes down his face. In great detail, Ricki describes the act of gouging someone's eyes out. Larry stuffs a man inside an industrial clothes dryer and threatens to turn it on. He also pushes Brian around.

Crude or Profane Language

Fox News film critic Roger Friedman writes that one particular (unprintable) vulgarity is so harsh it "sent at least two New York Times writers right out of the theater." The f-word is exercised well over 100 times (there's really no need to count much higher than that). The s-word a couple dozen. What's almost worse than such quantity, though, is the film's devotion to creatively obscene expressions for sexual anatomy and sexual deviancies. God and Jesus' names are abused nearly 20 times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

A man is seen holding booze.

Other Negative Elements

Larry eventually comes around and tries to help Brian, but before he does, he hurls insults at him for being "retarded." Filmmakers include a rather queasy scene in which Larry gives his mother a shot on the rear end.

Conclusion

Vulgarity and banality. Those are the two words my brain was wrestling with as I walked out of the theater following a screening of Gigli. How was it possible for a movie that works so hard to titillate and offend to leave so many eyelids drooping? And how many words would it take for me to convince families to treat Gigli like it's infected with West Nile Virus?

Gigli has already been called every bad name I can think of, and more: "This year's Glitter." "Total disaster." "Hopelessly misconceived." "Abysmal." "Bomb." "Stupefying." "Torpid." "Putrid." So I'll not waste my time trying to top the insults. Teens fond of either J.Lo or Affleck may decide the critics got it wrong, though, and ask to see the movie anyway. And in the end, it's the film's obscene content (in the violence, sexual and language categories) that should prop up parents' steadfast "no," not its artistic ineptitude.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

R

Readability Age Range

Genre

Drama

Author

Cast

Ben Affleck as Larry Gigli; Jennifer Lopez as Ricki; Justin Bartha as Brian; Christopher Walken as Det. Stanley Jacobellis; Al Pacino as Starkman

Director

Martin Brest ( )

Distributor

Columbia TriStar

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Steven Isaac

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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