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Larry Gigli (Ben Affleck) is a small-time crook who works for Los Angeles gangster Louis (Lenny Venito). Hoping to win the favour of New York crime boss Starkman (Al Pacino), Louis orders Larry to kidnap Brian (Justin Bartha), the mentally retarded brother of a federal prosecutor. After walking out of a care centre with Brian, Larry is confronted by lady enforcer Ricki (Jennifer Lopez), who has also been assigned by Louis to guard the hostage. Despite their initial antipathy, chauvinist Larry and lesbian Ricki gradually develop an attraction and begin to question Louis' orders. When Starkman arrives on the scene, the minders discover they're in over their heads and decide to take matters into their own hands.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
The cinematic graveyard is littered with the corpses of movies made by misty-eyed actors whose real-life romances drove them to commit crimes against entertainment. This Ben Affleck-Jennifer Lopez clunker doesn't sink to the depths plumbed by Sean Penn and Madonna in Shanghai Surprise (1985) or by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Boom! (1968) but its place in the pantheon of monumental misfires is assured. It's not uncommon for critics to latch onto a high-profile failure such as this and blow its shortcomings out of proportion but in this case there are nothing but shortcomings to report. Let's start not with Lopez and Affleck, whose much-publicized romance has now finished, but with writer/director Martin Brest. With a distinguished portfolio including Going In Style, Beverly Hills Cop and Midnight Run prior to this disaster, Brest has only himself to blame for a spectacularly dumb screenplay and the casting of leads whose self-conscious performances scuttle whatever chance it may have stood. 

Lopez and Affleck act as if they expect a drumroll and a round of applause whenever they appear and Affleck is particularly irritating as a low-level hired-hand with an accent that veers at will from New York Italian to New England preppy. Lopez is just plain boring as the least convincing lesbian hitwoman you've ever seen. The really big problem with Gigli is that not a single character or plot contrivance is believable for a moment. It tries to warm our hearts when Larry and Ricki turn mentally retarded hostage Brian (Justin Bartha) into their very own Rain Man and titillate us with explicit debates between the crime couple about the pros and cons of the penis and the vagina. All rattled off with a smarmy "aren't we funny" smirk by the star-crossed leads whose love has blinded them to a script with some of the worst dialogue ever written for a studio picture. 

Things are no better on the sidelines, with idiosyncratic Christopher Walken showing up for five minutes of...idiosyncratic Christopher Walken behavior as Larry's cop neighbour and Al Pacino huffing and puffing to no avail as one of those "nice one minute, shoot you in the head the next" mob bosses. The worst offender is Lenny Venito as Larry's immediate boss Louis. Venito must have spent a lot of time studying Mickey Rourke's early movies because he's got the speech and body language imitation down pat. His demise (no apologies here for the spoiler!) is one of the few welcome moments. Oh, I almost forgot all-purpose ethnic mother specialist Lainie Kazan and her embarrassing turn as Larry's mum who just loves to reel off details of her sexual escapades when her son brings Ricki home for the first time. I'll always love you Lainie, but this one comes close to spoiling the affection. By the time Larry and Ricky have solved everyone's problems and dragged the putrid carcass of this film to one of the dumbest endings I've ever witnessed, you may be dreaming of something much more pleasant - like the Chinese Water Torture. 

For torture is what you will have endured in this 118 minute vanity project that was wisely deemed unreleasable on cinema screens in this country. At least the 2.40:1 widescreen transfer on the disc looks good. There are no extras included with this release and for once it's a blessing.

Published March 18, 2004

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(US, 2003)

CAST: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Al Pacino, Justin Bartha, Lenny Venito, Christopher Walken, Lainie Kazan

DIRECTOR: Martin Brest

RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen (2.40:1,16:9 enhanced); Dolby Digital 5.1; Language: English, Russian; Subtitles English, English Captions, Greek, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Polish, Russian, Slovene, Turkish


DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: March 17, 2004

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