Gigli (pronounced "Gee-lee") is a 2003 American romantic comedy film written and directed by Martin Brest (yes, the same guy who also did Beverly Hills Cop and Scent of a Woman) and starring Ben Affleck as Larry Gigli, Jennifer Lopez as Ricki and Justin Bartha as Brian, with guest appearances from Al Pacino and Christopher Walken.
The film is known to have suffered through various re-writes until the Bennifer romance (then a big media craze) became one of the biggest celebrity stories of 2002, and decided to cash in on the trend. This also meant that the film's original plan of being a black comedy about gangsters to be scrapped.
When the film finally came out in 2003, it was a huge box office bomb that only made $7.3 million out of its $75.6 million budget, and was a failure with both critics and the audience alike. It managed to win the Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture of that year. The film also permanently killed Martin Brest's film career, since he doesn't direct movies anymore after this failure and it also shut down his production company, City Light Films.
Larry Gigli is a low-ranking Los Angeles mobster who isn't nearly as tough as he likes to act. He also gets annoyed quickly when his last name is pronounced wrong. He is commanded to kidnap the mentally challenged younger brother of a powerful federal prosecutor to save New York-based mob boss Starkman from prison. Larry successfully convinces the young man, Brian, to go off with him by promising to take him "to the Baywatch", which seems to be Brian's singular obsession, and turns out to just be the beach. The man who ordered the kidnapping, Louis, does not trust Larry to get the job done right, so he hires a woman calling herself Ricki to take charge.
Larry is attracted to Ricki, but he resents the fact that Louis does not have faith in him and that he has to take orders from a woman. He is also frustrated by Brian's insistence on going to "the Baywatch" and by Ricki's being a lesbian. A suspicious detective comes to the apartment to question Larry if he is aware of Brian's disappearance. Larry, who is further annoyed when his mother takes an immediate liking to Ricki, both of them needling him.
The events take a darker turn when Larry and Ricki receive orders to cut off Brian's thumb, something neither wants to do. Worse, Ricki's ex-girlfriend, Robin, shows up at Larry's apartment, accusing her of changing sexual orientation. She slits her wrists and has to be rushed to the hospital. While at the hospital, Larry goes to the morgue and cuts off a corpse's thumb, which he sends to the prosecutor as Brian's thumb. Larry and Ricki go back to Larry's apartment where he confesses his love, and the two sleep together.
They are summoned to meet with the mob's boss. Starkman reveals that he didn't approve of the plan to kidnap a federal prosecutor's brother or cut off the thumb and rages at them because the thumb they sent didn't match Brian's fingerprint, nullifying any potential for coercing the prosecutor; he then kills Louis, presumably for the kidnapping and stirring a hornet's nest in law enforcement. Starkman is about to kill Ricki and Larry as well, but Ricki talks him out of it by pointing out that only they know where Brian is, and only they can silence him and prevent him from fingering Starkman in the kidnapping. They leave Starkman's, decide to leave the mob, and discuss taking Brian back to where they found him. On the way, they discover Baywatch (or a similarly themed show or film) shooting an episode on the beach. Brian begs to be let off there and finally they consent.
Larry convinces Ricki to take his car, but at the last minute, Ricki returns and picks up Larry, and they leave town together.
All of the characters are transformed by the episode. Louis's mob is disrupted, Larry has dropped his hyper-masculine facade, Ricki has a heterosexual fling with Larry, and Brian gradually emerges from his shell, noticing other people and conversing.
Why It Sucks
- The film can't decide if it wants to be a romantic comedy or a serious crime film.
- Although both Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez were a couple during the time the film was made, they have no chemistry with each other.
- Monotonous and boring plot that goes nowhere because of Larry and Ricki's romance getting in the way.
- The characters are either bland or unlikable to the point that Al Pacino and Christopher Walken's only roles in the film are to point out how stupid the characters are.
- Offensive stereotypical behavior of a mentally handicapped person.
- Even more offensive stereotype of Ricki somehow changing her sexual orientation from lesbian to completely straight after almost immediately falling in love with Larry.
- For most of the film, the film's characters are in the apartment or are driving around.
- The trailer for the film is misleading (see below). In the trailer, Larry acts like a troubled man with a split personality and has a hidden secret about being a criminal. While in the film, Larry switches from being a tough gangster and then becomes squeamish.
- The poster is misleading as well by making it seem like Larry and Ricki are falling in love. But, in the film, the two leads have no chemistry and spend most of the time yelling at each other.
- The film was mainly a celebrity buzz film (more information in FanboyFlicks' review).
- It’s annoying to hear Larry correct people about his last name when it’s pronounced incorrectly.
- Even worse, Gigli was originally supposed to be a black comedy rather than a romantic comedy, but media interest in the Bennifer romance meant executives hastily rewrote the film, subsequently ruining it. Because of the re-writes, the film permanently killed Martin Brest’s career as a filmmaker.
- Lame plot twist where it’s revealed that Al Pacino’s character didn’t approve of Louis’ order for Larry to kidnap Brian or cut his thumb off.
- Weak supporting characters (e.g. Christopher Walken’s character) that are seen for several minutes and are not brought up again.
- Laughable and grotesque dialogue (eg. when Christopher Walken’s character talks about getting pie and ice cream or when Brian states that the ladies at the “Baywatch” make his penis sneeze.)
The film currently holds a 6% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 2.7 out of 10 and a critic consensus that reads, “Bizarre and clumsily plotted, Gigli is a mess. As for its stars, Affleck and Lopez lack chemistry.” Film critic Joel Siegel of Good Morning America stated about the film, “To qualify as a historic failure, a film needs a measure of pretension and all Gigli ever wanted to be was a romantic comedy. What it is is a dreadful romantic comedy.”
Film critics James Berardinelli of ReelViews and Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times had given the film negative reviews, however both critics had some soft spots for the film. Roger stated that the film had some "clever dialogue", but was "...too disorganized for me to recommend it". Berardinelli stated "They didn't quite get to where they wanted to be, but the film is worth seeing for some very good scenes."
The film had a budget of $75 million and only grossed $7.3 million (mentioned earlier) making it one of the most expensive box office bombs of all time.
Awards and nominations
Gigli earned six Razzie Awards including Worst Picture, Worst Actress, Worst Actor and Worst Director. It would later win one more for "Worst Comedy For Our First 25 Years".
- According to Matt Damon, who is a close friend of Ben Affleck, Ben gets upset and twitches whenever someone brings Gigli up.