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Gigli
Reviewed by Dennis Morton

Have you ever watched a movie in a large theatre, all by yourself? It happened to me recently when I caught the late showing of Gigli, the Jennifer Lopez / Ben Affleck film. This movie has been dumped on so thoroughly by so many critics that apparently no one, or almost no one, is bothering to see if the critics know what they’re talking about.

They don’t.

I won’t try to tell you that Gigli is a great film. It isn’t. But it’s not the egregious failure it’s made out to be. Hollywood is awash with films that don’t deserve an audience, but Gigli isn’t one of them. Although burdened by an improbable plot, there is much to enjoy and admire in this oddball effort.

Affleck and Lopez, in spite of what you may have heard, do have chemistry on the screen. Their relationship works not because it’s sultry or steamy. It works because it’s comic. And comedy requires not just good acting, but good writing. There’s plenty of both in Gigli.

The plot requires Affleck’s character, a Damon Runyonesque fellow named Larry, to
kidnap a mentally challenged young man from an institution. This is a device that serves the purpose of getting Larry, the young man and Lopez’s character Ricki to spend a considerable amount of time together, most of it in Larry’s small apartment. In these close quarters the characters learn a lot about each other, which leads to a tenderness we can see coming from a mile away, but which is nevertheless endearing.

I’m puzzled by the nearly hysterical reaction of most critics to this film. The Lopez character, Ricki, is a lesbian. Could this be making some folks uncomfortable? There’s a lot of talk about male and female body parts. Could this be putting some people off? I enjoyed watching Affleck and Lopez negotiate their differing sexual proclivities. I didn’t find it heavy handed. I found it funny. And unless I’m completely misreading the director’s intent, I was supposed to.
Gigli is enriched by three wonderful cameos.

Lainie Kazan plays Larry’s mother. Her scene is one of the funniest in the movie. And Larry’s embarrassment is so palpable that we cringe along with him as Kazan mouths off in her inimitable way.

Christopher Walken plays a cop. Walken is always wired, but his three minutes in Gigli is a masterpiece of the bizarre. No actor can match his manic energy. Walken’s scene will not be forgotten by the several of us who braved the critics’ warning and actually watched this movie.
And finally, Al Pacino makes an appearance late in the movie as a very scary crime boss. He exudes unpredictability and menace. And the look of frightened bewilderment
on Larry’s face, and Ricki’s, when in Pacino’s presence is convincing and far more eloquent that words.

Yes, I confess, I liked this film. Check it out. This may be your only opportunity to be part of an audience that’s outnumbered by the theatre’s staff.

For KUSP’s Film Gang, this is Dennis Morton.