Sunday, August 8, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #73, Gigli

For the last seven years, there has been one word that has stood for epically bad cinema: "Gigli." It was a movie that was pretty much doomed from the start because of all of the tabloid craze around the relationship between its two stars, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. To top it off, people revelled in how horrible the movie apparently was. Word of mouth led the film to be dropped from 97% of its theaters by the third week. All of its theaters in the UK dropped it after one week. It made only around $3.7 million in its opening weekend and ended up at just over $6 million total. It cost $54 million to make. Lopez made $12 million and Affleck $12.5 million. It remains the most celebrated flop in recent memory. So, with all that, how could it possibly live down to my expectations?

I know that I generally hate Affleck as an actor and, with the exception of Out of Sight, absolutely hate Lopez. The former tries to put on a tough guy New York mobster accent that sounds ridiculous even when little bits of Boston aren't creeping in, while the latter is not historically awful but not really good either. I could have easily predicted that they would have little chemistry. Of course, as the movie includes a sex scene that has less romance than anything in Basic Instinct. I didn't know going in that Al Pacino had a cameo, but had I known, I could have predicted that he would overact. Even hearing that it was a romantic comedy that is rumored to have been edited to remove a lot of violence and dark content, I could have guessed that I would find it boring. Still bad, but not bad enough to even touch my expectations.

The plot deals with Affleck as Larry Gigli, a low-level gangster who manages to screw things up all the time. When he is asked to perform a tricky job, his boss sends a lesbian gangster to help him. Hilarity and poorly-acted sexual tension ensue. What I could have never anticipated was what that tricky job entails and therein lies what turns the movie from merely bad to purely abysmal.

In order to help in a court case, Gigli is asked to kidnap the brother of a Federal attorney. Said brother is played by Justin Bartha, most famous for being Doug, the groom in The Hangover. Said brother played by Justin Bartha is mentally challenged. Boom. This calls for a quote from Tropic Thunder that I don't have to bother quoting. Bartha plays the mentally challenged brother in a performance that ranks somewhere between "Johnny Knoxville faking being challenged in The Ringer" and "bad impersonation of Rain Man for an Epic Movie-type movie." The concept behind said performance is so misguided, so impossibly stupid, that it propels the film into history. As if that isn't bad enough, the whole conceit leads to an ending that involves a poorly-played fully mentally challenged character dancing on the set of Baywatch. I'm not only not joking; I'm not doing the ending justice. It is one of the worst endings I've ever seen of any movie. Off the top of my head, it's Glitter and Gigli. That's it. That's the list.

Bartha has gone on to some fame in The Hangover (and in the National Treasure series). Lopez will likely be a judge on American Idol and be fairly competent at that. Affleck has become a very good director and his new movie, The Town, looks fantastic. Good for all of them. This movie is a tedious and infamous piece of garbage. It is a fitting movie to hit my halfway milestone. Fifty movies down, fifty to go.

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