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In a sea of mediocre movies this summer when, as a reviewer, being able to slam or lavish great praise on a film hasn't been easy, Sony brings us Gigli--a film so deliciously bad, it's a joy to write about.


Let's just get through Gigli's plot so we can move on to the fun stuff. A lowly hit man, Larry Gigli (Ben Affleck), is hired to kidnap the mentally handicapped little brother (Justin Bartha) of a federal prosecutor for Mob purposes. A second hitperson, the comely, independent-minded Ricki (Jennifer Lopez), is also put on the case because Gigli can't be trusted to do the job correctly. Holed up in Gigli's apartment, the duo clashes at first but gradually form a bond, even though Gigli is a chauvinistic jughead and Ricki a tough-nut lesbian. Of course, they also form an attachment to their quarry Brian, who, in his untainted innocence, manages to change these two hardened individuals. Now that's over with, here's just a sampling of some of the deep and meaningful dialogue that passes between these two lovebirds: Says Gigli: ''I am the bull and you are the cow…f**k with the bull, you get the horn.'' Gigli to Ricki: ''I'm the Sultan of Slick…the original gangster's gangster.'' Ricki to Gigli: ''You know, this might be a good time to suggest you not allow the seeds of cruel hope to sprout in your soul.'' Then later, more from Ricki: ''The penis is a sea slug, or more like a really long toe. But kissing the mouth…The mouth--the lips, the warm, moist hole--is a twin sister to the…'' Well, you get the picture. Even Brian gets in a good one when he chirps spastically, ''It's not my fault I'm brain damaged!'' Can it get any better than this?


Ben, Jen, what were you thinking? On second thought, don't answer that--we'd probably rather not know. This is one time when watching two huge celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck fall in love is more cringe-worthy than romantic in any way. Imagine, if you will, Lopez as Ricki, who, having succumbed to Gigli's, er, charm, sprawls herself seductively on the bed in a little kimono robe and tells him, ''It's turkey time. Gobble, gobble''--with a straight face. Or how about this one: ''You know I'm not into the whole man thing…but somehow you got through.'' (Insert audible collective audience groan here). Affleck, who stands around looking like he's been hit in the face with a frying pan most of the time--of course, without ever mussing his hair--comes off looking even worse, if that's possible. His accent fluctuates between that of a Brooklyn thug and Southern California surfer dude. As far as how some of the high-profile cameos in the film got there--including Christopher Walken as a quirky cop and Al Pacino as a mobster who gets to vent in his usual boisterous way--obviously some favors must have been called in. Pacino did win his only Oscar for his performance in Scent of a Woman, helmed by Gigli's director, Martin Brest. Maybe they all deserve more credit for enduring such utterly banal garbage.


Writer/director Brest has had a spotty career at best. Of a handful of movies he's had a hit here and there (Beverly Hills Cop) and a few failures (Meet Joe Black). But with Gigli, the filmmaker reaches the bottom rung. He took big names, thrown them in a big-budget crime drama that really wants to be a small, talky indie, and the end result is more like a really bad play in which all the characters give their own over-the-top soliloquies, waxing prophetic about every subject under the sun--differences between males and females, being gay vs. straight, anger management, retardation, slopping pie on one's head (believe it). Granted, on some level, Brest is trying to think out of the box within a formulaic setting and in all honesty Gigli's premise isn't all that dreadful--just hacky. There may have been a somewhat decent movie hidden somewhere in Gigli--enough of movie at least to attract Lopez and Affleck (whose romance began on the shoot). Instead it's a discombobulated, jumbled mess of incoherent musings and horrible dialogue that moviegoers just shouldn't be subjected to. We wonder if, at this very moment, J. Lo isn't saying to her future hubby, ''Let's not do this again''--but wait, they are, in Kevin Smith's Jersey Girls. We don't want to know what he's saying.

Bottom Line

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez may be one of Hollywood's hottest real-life couples but on screen, they lack conviction. Gigli is a traffic accident you can't keep your eyes off of. If you have a taste for morbid curiosity, go see it.