It’s not perfect (far from so) as it is surely a film with faults (the score has moments of insane corniness and I’m not a true supporter of the development of Justin Bartha’s character) – but overall it’s one of the most daring mainstream American comedies I can think of from the aughts. The big issue I have with the response to the film, however, is that many have been fooled into believing what the studios advertised. That the film was a supposed romantic comedy with the tabloid-crazed “Bennifer” in the lead roles – making many expecting a romantic film disappointed by the lack of kinetic chemistry between both Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez’s characters. This film isn’t a romance. It’s about sexuality and it’s about gender roles and it develops all of these elements through its cheeky and humorous dialogue instead of a true three-act narrative. In the end, it becomes understandable why the film is so universally hated by the mainstream moviegoers and critics. They weren’t expecting a 2-hour talkative movie about sex. Can you imagine the same people loving Hollywood “rom-coms” like “Just Like Heaven” or “Sweet Home Alabama” appreciating a film that takes almost entirely in one apartment as a closeted homosexual constantly tries to have sex with a lesbian?
It could also be that queer element that turned many off, too. Or maybe, they skimmed over it (which is highly possible seeing as nearly none of the reviews from critics seemed to have picked up on that aspect of Affleck’s character) and couldn’t stand watching a man being so emasculated. But director Martin Brest is very sensitive to that development – leaving it quite natural and not really lingered on for longer than it needs to be. Most have slammed Affleck’s over-the-top performance in the film – but fail to see the reason for such theatrical behavior in comparison to Lopez’s understated turn. Did people not pay attention to the film’s first twenty or so minutes? Critical response once again seem to get things a bit twisted by calling both Affleck and Lopez’s characters gangsters. Affleck isn’t really a gangster – but a thug wannabe. People laugh at the way he dressed and projects some kind of TV-esque gangster archetype, his over-the-top swagger at trying to be cool. It’s this masculine approach that he uses to help relieve and hide himself from his truly feminine and queer emotions. Many have commented that Lopez is too “quiet” as a gangster. But what I don’t get is how anyone figured she was a gangster at all. Her character is a friend to some tough gangsters, but she’s not a cynical and violent thug herself. She’s just a very open and understanding individual who can still remain calm with her own personality while accepting the best from people who are projecting their personalities through such a violent world. (Look at the way she smiles and comforts Affleck’s character after he is constantly frantic. Or look at the way she tries to make way of a situation when her ex-girlfriend shows up at the apartment to cause a scene.) For further proof that the two are not in any way supposed to be portrayed as professional gangsters – look at the scene where Al Pacino blows a guy’s brains out (the only violent moment in the entire film). Both Affleck and Lopez react in utter shock and both become incredibly frightened.
But I digress, I’m just getting into picking apart “what the critics got wrong”. What I need to do is just share what makes the film, to me, one that works so well for what it is. A ballsy, more-intelligent-than-the-norm mainstream Hollywood gender/sex comedy. Check out this scene…
It’s a playful little monologue that, on the surface or out of context with the film’s intentions, could rub off as supremely stupid. However, in terms of Lopez’s character – it thoroughly makes sense. Her picking apart the false, hyper-masculine behavior that Affleck always possesses – which ultimately leads to her sleeping with him – NOT because she has been changed from her lesbianism – but because she sees it as a way to help him cope and open up to being more honest with himself. Late in the film, while sitting in the car awaiting a message from a REAL gangster, Affleck sits and delivers a piece of dialogue about how he hates the world and how he’s always fantasized about some place “really clean and without all the bad stuff”. In this moment, in Affleck’s performance, he’s no longer “thug”… he’s vulnerable, raw, sensitive, and honest. When the fellow gangster pulls up next to them, he immediately shifts back into the gangster image with an overtly manly “Wassup?!”
There’s a scene in the film where Affleck tries to argue with Lopez about how the penis is the most desirable thing when it comes to all things sexual. Lopez, of course, disagrees and argues for the vagina. It’s a playful, dirty, but believable battle of words – and it’s quite poetically written (and some critics who loathe the movie even feel this way) – and it really dives even more into what makes “Gigli” so special. It’s not dumb or immature about sex. Affleck’s character is (does he realize that arguing the beauty of the penis even further shows his true gayness deep within?), but the film and Lopez’s character are not.
Watch this video montage of dialogue in the film that is infamously considered “unintentionally funny” and “bad”…
Many of these bits are meant to be funny (just check out Affleck’s reaction to Lopez’s “Gobble gobble” – or the over-machoism of Affleck in his… writer Brest is being cheeky with it for sure) and they’re not really bad either – but consistent with the film’s themes and developments of the leads. When Lopez comically utters “It’s turkey time” – it’s a play on a scene earlier in the film in which Affleck tried to argue how every relationship has a “bull and a cow”… to which Lopez responds to his principle as if he was a dumbass – because that philosophy IS incredibly dumb. Y’see… “Gigli”’s most smart when it’s aware of itself being dumb. Affleck’s character is simply a dumbass.
But it’s beautiful how Lopez’s character takes on a maternal care for him and helps him break from his shell. It’s done humorously, but genuinely. “Life’s not always black-and-white”, a character says in the film. Labels aren’t necessarily important either – but there’s still always time for preference as long as one’s honest concerning it. Which is why it’s beautiful when Lopez tells Affleck “I bet you’d look good in mascara” all the more poignant – especially his smiling response to that.
“Gigli” is well-written, has a brain – and is truly – seriously – underrated and quite misunderstood. I just wish more looked at it for its true intentions and didn’t treat it like it wasn’t written and directed by an otherwise acclaimed director best known for his satirical comedies based on social issues. This film deserves better.
the worst Brest characters are overwritten which is damn better than being underwritten.
Lopez is very good here and Affleck is wonderful. The movie got sidetracked by stupid gossip but it is a very good film, well written as the OP mentioned. I find myself qouting lines from time to time.
“You don’t own a book?”
Well, if Ishtar and Showgirls can be reevaluated, why the hell not? If this happens to Battlefield Earth, though, I’m outta here.
Yeah, if actions films warrant attention, who is to say this film doesn’t?
I’m going to watch an action film right now, I hope there are some really good car crashes…ugh.
I don’t think it could ever happen to BE, Brad. Haha.
“Lopez is very good here and Affleck is wonderful. The movie got sidetracked by stupid gossip but it is a very good film, well written as the OP mentioned. I find myself qouting lines from time to time.”
Yeah, Dennis, I agree. Lopez is definitely very good here, and I can’t comprehend anybody hating her performance. She’s very smart, sexy, and funny.
“If I were to ask you if it would give you great pleasure to suck your cock for twelve hours. You’d probably return the favor.”
Anybody else have comments?
Why am i not surprised that Den likes this film too? ;-)
I thought it was absolute ass cheeks, but each to their own of course.
i’d rather watch Battlefield Earth any day over it!
Haven’t seen the film myself Douglas, but I appreciate the time put into the post. I figure any film that can spark a little careful reflection can’t be all bad, so maybe I’ll check it out sometime, assuming my videostore has a copy.
ass cheeks? Is that reference to J-Lo?
^^No, J-Lo’s cheeks are fine!!
not that i’ve seen them of course, but i can easily imagine them to be ;-0
If so, that’d be saying a lot. It’s still hard to believe they broke up and Affleck left her behind.
^^Not really. You ever heard her talk? She is annoying.
I called that ages ago anyway, even before it happened. THere is no way an educated guy like Affleck was going to stay with a chick like Lopez. it was never going to happen ;-)
It was probably a good break for him, away from more straight, conservative, almost nerdy white girls that he usually dates ;-)
But i don’t care how good that ass is. Eventually it would get dull.
having said that, i believe that in my particular case it would take a while for me to reach that point ;-)
Ah, damn, I didn’t notice your post got between mine and Roberts, I was just making some silly butt jokes. Leave her behind, get it? Hilarious stuff…if you happen to be slightly brain damaged as I seem to be anyway…
Yeah Greg, how could anyone leave that behind….
Not really. You ever heard her talk? She is annoying.
Not to a marketing manager – she is all way ‘on message’ to her core group of fans.
hahaha Greg, sorry, i i misunderstood(for real this time ;-)
anyway, must say i prefer Affleck behind the camera rather than in front of it.
Not to get all gossipy, but Affleck did seem to have something for the motivational salesperson types, I mean J-Lo and before her Paltrow, the mastermind behind Goop
Intelligent? I dunno, I honestly have never seen it. But, those clips you posted were hilarious.
The urge to separate their fans from their money must be irresistible.
It’s not as bad as advertised. “Very intelligent” might be a bit of a stretch.
I’ve seen this and it wasn’t as bad as I expected, but you’re wasting energy defending this thing because it isn’t worth anyone’s time.
I don’t feel I am – considering that I do find it a film worth defending.
“I thought it was absolute ass cheeks,”
ass checks are awesome, second worse pejorative I have ever heard.
Hey Dennis – I’d love to know what you rated the film? It doesn’t seem you did according to my following ratings.. :(
I would rate it three star and a half stars. The acting by Bartha is something you don’t see everyday. All the leads have good interplay and Brest is a skilled director. I once wrote a thread on Brest. lamenting the fact that he has not done a movie since this one. It should not have been a career killer.
Based on this thread and the fact that it was just added to Netflix streaming, I decided to check it out. Yeah, it’s not quite as bad as its reputation suggests but not very good. Besides the extraordinarily lazy plotting and bad acting (ouch Pacino), some questions…..
1) Why is Ben Affleck drawn to films in which he turns lesbians?
2) How can defenders of the film justify the score of the film which is as awful as it is incessant? It’s literally the most invasive and atrocious score I can recall,
3) How is it possible that Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were an actual couple when they made this film when they have such little on screen chemistry?
4) How to excuse yet another Rainman-esque cutesy mentally disabled character? Just terrible.
I’ll admit that some of the scenes pulled to justify how awful the film is actually contribute to its “charm”:
“turkey time” indeed
The “gobble, gobble” got a chuckle. “Suckmydick.com” not so much.