I am sad to report that “Gigli” is not about the famed Italian tenor Beniamino Gigli. It is about the “chemistry” of Jennifer Lopez (J.Lo to millions) and Ben Affleck (B.Af to fewer), who have been having, to the joy of all tab readers, an S.Rom (sizzling romance).
Their new L.Mo (lousy movie) is Martin Brest’s comedy about a tough guy, Larry Gigli (Affleck).
He is hired by a scumball (Lenny Venito) who substitutes profanity for English to kidnap the retarded teen brother of a federal prosecutor.
Justin Bartha plays challenged Brian as afflicted only when comedy requires it, with Tourette’s syndrome as a cute, occasional extra.
He looks a bit like young Tom Hanks, and seems to be on loan from a special school production of “Forrest Gump.” Brian loves Australian weather reports and “Baywatch.”
He and Gigli both learn to love Ricki (Lopez), another “contractor” hired by the scum to watch them.
She is a proudly lesbian killer-tootsie.
She can subdue punks with her “people skills” speech about gouging out eyeballs, but also bunkers serenely into Buddhist books on peace.
She delivers an erotic ode to her body while exercising that perfect bod before the awed Affleck.
These are supposedly very dangerous people, but we sense that their major anxiety is a misplaced comb or a smudged tattoo.
Their eyes meet like fated mirrors reflecting a vast mutual inwardness of preening.
Cinema of attitude
Add Lainie Kazan as Larry’s mom, a one-woman carnival who exhibits her large frontal and posterior assets for the camera. Add pale, spaced Christopher Walken as a detective, delivering a speech that salutes Marie Callender pies (no rival to his fine speech in “Pulp Fiction”).
Add the scene-grab hog Al Pacino as a criminal psycho doing a Pacino spoof (“Sit. Sit. I say everything twice!”).
Of course, Lopez and Affleck look terrific, with tremendous hair that drinks up sunlight.
They do have some sort of flirty chemical bond and they could even be charming, except that their movie is idiotic, Affleck seems to have taken a cheap mail-order course on Robert De Niro and Lopez projects a silky smugness that is too narcissistic to be either lesbian or hetero.
The film is mainly about Martin Brest getting A-list actors to fall in love with his dialogue.
Everything builds to showcase monologues, but nothing credible follows from them.
This is the Cinema of Attitude pampered beyond lousy teen comedy to some post-Tarantino end zone of stupified “adulthood.”
Brest made “Going in Style,” “Midnight Run” and “Beverly Hills Cop,” but has devolved to “Scent of a Woman,” “Meet Joe Black” and this puddle of piffle.
He is an object lesson in what success can do to a talent, but possibly we are being too hard on Hollywood and too easy on him. Why is he so hard on us?
David Elliott is the movie critic of The San Diego Union-Tribune. © 2003 by the Copley News Service.