Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thoughts - Gigli (2003)

11/18/13: First thing's first... Gigli isn't as bad as you've heard. It's an almost absolute misfire, a fact which was adversely compounded by a heaping load of negative hype. Even a good film didn't stand a chance with the buzz that this bad one received, though wording it like that makes it seem as though the film is completely innocent, when in reality it was very much complicit in its own inevitable demise. It didn't so much receive its negative buzz as it generated it, emanated it, even, with its stupid-ass smug title with the confusing pronunciation that they surely thought was clever and interesting, and the casting of then-it-couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez that was supposed to be so cute. The fact that the promotion of Gigli and its resulting coverage gave rise to the celebrity portmanteau, and potential audiences were subjected to the term "Bennifer" is alone reason to revile the film and revolt against it.

So... How is the actual film, ten years removed from all of the hype? It's still pretty bad, but tolerable most of the time. It's totally understandable that it seemed like a good idea, on paper: written and directed by Martin Brest, it follows in a similar vein as Midnight Run or Scent of a Woman, aiming to be a tale of quirky criminals falling for each other through a series of overly verbose battles of wits. Unfortunately Brest misjudges the likability of his characters, who are as smug as the film's title and, like the film itself, lack a modicum of self-awareness which might have made them, and it, interesting. So their loquacious bouts become exhausting rather than endearing. Oh, and it probably doesn't help that the plot centers around them kidnapping and holding for ransom a retarded kid who thinks they're taking him to the Baywatch set and loves to sing Baby Got Back, something the filmmakers obviously thought was so painfully funny that they couldn't resist throwing the audio of which in over the end credits.

And yet there's still a faint charm to Gigli... It's ill-conceived and poorly executed, but its intentions are so well-meaning; it really does think it's being nice and sweet when Affleck's self-proclaimed "Sultan of Slick... Rule of fuckin' cool... Fuckin' original, straight-first-foremost, pimp-mack, fuckin hustler, original gangster's gangster!"shows Justin Bartha's Sir Mix a Lot-loving retarded kid how to sweet-talk ladies. And when they do happen upon the Baywatch set, and Affleck watches from a distance as Bartha wanders his way into the scene and chats up a model, his smile of approval is so genuine it almost makes you almost want to share in his, and the film's, self-satisfaction. *1/2

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