Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Gigli

There aren't many reasons to see the talky, spark-free gangland romantic comedy Gigli, but intrepid moviegoers should at least try to slip in and catch one scene before shuffling off to Seabiscuit or Terminator 3. That scene comes shortly after loudmouthed enforcer Ben Affleck spends his first night with Justin Bartha (the kidnapped, developmentally disabled brother of a federal judge Affleck's bosses want to influence) and Jennifer Lopez (a lesbian fellow contractor assigned to make sure Affleck does the job right). Playing a police detective, Christopher Walken shows up for some unannounced intimidation. In a few short minutes, his scene spotlights the range of his talent, as he veers from scary to funny to bizarre, then back again. Unfortunately, he feels like an old pro condescending to stop by for amateur night. Sure, writer-director Martin Brest lends the film a professional sheen, and his stars (who some rumors suggest may have become romantically involved) have charisma to spare, but the film has all the charge and momentum of a Paxil ad. In what passes for chemistry, Lopez smirks while Affleck yells in a voice borrowed from early John Travolta roles. He delivers a monologue about how every relationship has a bull and a cow. She counters his bluster with quotes from Sun Tzu, though the film lets her killing skills, like her sexuality, remain mostly a matter of hearsay. Apart from the painful anticipation of waiting for Bartha–a newcomer who seems to have seen Rain Man once or twice–to demand a trip to see "the Baywatch" or bust into another impromptu rap, the tension comes from Affleck's inability to score with Lopez, whose professed sexual preference lasts longer against Affleck's charms than Joey Lauren Adams' does in Chasing Amy, but not by much. To be fair, Brest seems to have set out to make a film exploring such sexual vagaries, a theme his characters discuss repeatedly and at great length. But it would be a lot easier to appreciate what the film works toward if it ever came close to getting there. Instead, the dialogue sounds as unconvincing as the action it sets up, a fatal flaw for a film that's essentially all talk. Neither a loud, bloody cameo from Al Pacino nor the obviously tacked-on ending come close to redeeming the tedium, and the unfulfilled promise of a second scene from Walken doesn't help.

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