PSA: Gigli (2003), or Tsk, Tsk, Tsk.

19 02 2009
One of those rare instances where a movie deserves every bit of derision it gets!

One of those rare instances where a movie deserves every bit of derision it gets!

Welcome to Comedy Week, everyone! The people have spoken, and I listen to the people from my beautiful ivory tower in the heart of the metropolis! I see that out of a whole six votes (thanks for the time, six voting people; the rest of you can sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done) three people voted comedy to be their favorite genre. So the popular vote demands action! I give you a comedy today, but not like any comedy I have ever seen before. This comedy makes you cringe and gnash your teeth uncontrollably. This comedy makes you say and do horrible things to your friends and family. This comedy is the Maltese Falcon of failed hilarity (“The stuff nightmares are made of”, Sam Spade might say). This movie was one of the worst box office bombs of all time, barely ekeing out a tenth of the production cost in theaters. At Rotten Tomatoes, this movie has a 6% rating. 6%! I could make a farm-animal-torture-porn that would at least make 8% on the hallowed “Tomatometer”! Nobody I have ever met has watched this thing. Out of all the jokes made at its expense and the tons of Razzies it won I found not one person who had braved it. It had me curious a couple years after it came out. I had a free rental at Blockbuster at the time, so I thought it was time to test the mettle of another alleged “awful movie”. I already had it in my head that it was not as bad as most people had told me; I had recently watched the legendary Monkeybone at the time, and was curious as to how something so innocuous had been turned into such a huge flop-fiasco. Thinking the same might be true of this movie, I popped it in. Two hours later, I felt like the girl from The Ring had just sucked me dry. This was really as bad as everyone said it was. This is no laughing matter, I’m afraid, but it is a comedy.

So, it all begins with Larry Gigli (“rhymes with really”), some low-level capo asshole doing some leg work for a mob boss. Our hero, ladies and gentleman! His boss, an equally loveable guy, has a high-level job for his braindead capo. It seems Gigli’s boss’s boss is having some issues with a federal prosecutor, and Gigli’s boss wants him to do something about it. What is that something? Well, it seems that this federal prosecutor has a mentally challenged brother, and Gigli is assigned to kidnap the kid and hold him in a safe place until the prosecutor lays off Gigli’s boss’s boss. HILARIOUS! Gigli is down for this and quickly absconds with the mentally challenged brother, named Brian by the way, after some coaxing and convincing. So Gigli takes the teenager to his apartment, all the while berating him for being loud and annoying (HA-HA-HA! This isn’t offensive at all!). Everything is going about as well as one can expect from a plan hatched by Larry “Super-Genius” Gigli when all of a sudden he is intercepted by Ricki, a female mobster sent by Gigli’s boss because he figured he was too incompetent to do the job himself. Together, they keep watch over the loveably stereotypical Brian. Gigli wants to make a move on this lovely Mafiosa, until he learns that there is a hitch; she is a lesbian. But that doesn’t stop Gigli from trying (for some reason!)! HILARIOUS! So a bunch of stuff happens, and guess what? It turns out that neither Ricki nor Gigli are smart enough to pull this whole thing off! They’re in way over their heads! Can Gigli get this one thing right, making his entire worthless existence up to this point somewhat worthwhile? Can he get in on some of that hot lesbian sex, even though he is extremely ill-equipped? Can this HILARIOUS premise somehow become even remotely watchable?

Okay, this was a mistake. I was not expecting it to be as bad watching it the second time around, but somehow it was. Even renting this was extremely embarrassing, what with the clerk at the video store looking at me like I was holding a handul of used condoms rather than a DVD: like pudding made out of crushed-up hornets, it hurt just as much to procure as it did to consume. It’s really unexplainable. Every single joke falls flat. Not one time did I laugh. Not once. And I am not some sort of cultured joke connoisseur; hell, I laughed at my own “used condoms” quip I just made three lines above this. It is a simple matter of understanding what makes something funny, a concept which eludes the entire cast and crew of this movie. Nobody knew what to do. Everybody looks lost for motivation, and I mean EVERYBODY. And for such a high-concept comedy, with all the plot points and characters, they do not play anything plot-wise for laughs. The jokes all come from left-field non-sequiturs. It feels like an extremely tense, uncomfortable version of Seinfeld. And when they do not come from that, they come from the treasure-trove of comedy that is Brian’s mental retardation. And, really, if we can’t laugh at the mentally challenged, then what else is there in life to make us smile?

A big problem is obviously the leads. They are not likable, and they are constantly thrust into my face, right into my face for 100 impossibly long minutes. The on-screen chemistry of Gigli and Ricki, played by then-couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez respectively, cannot even be calculated. It is infinitesimal and untouchable, something that needs to be studied by electron microscopes and cadres of sharp-witted comedians. It is really pathetic when a real-life couple cannot even work up enough heat to keep a movie from freezing to death, but some scenes, like the infamous “sex talk” fiasco, make you wonder if these people had ever lived outside of a movie studio, if they had ever encountered a situation outside of a script.

As for Brian, the mentally handicapped teenager, much has been made of Justin Bartha’s performance being a bright spot in this otherwise abysmal movie. I heartily disagree. If anything, the scenes featuring this character make me more uncomfortable and disgusted with the idea than all the cold-fish romance scenes combined. It is not as offensive as some of the other movies I have seen regarding the handicapped, but the fact is that Justin Bartha (of National Treasure fame) is 100% genuinely not funny, and combined with his manipulative depiction of Brian as another handicapped victim just makes me ill. No more of this man in Hollywood!

So I hate this movie. I mean I hate it with a passion. I was going to give it a -1 out of 10 in all honesty. It really blew my mind. But this movie has one thing really going for it, and it is something that has to be seen to be believed. Christopher Walken (you know, that guy that just escaped from the insane asylum!) makes a brief cameo in this film. It is only six minutes worth of acting, but it might as well be six hundred. This guy gives the psychotic performance of his career here as a cop Gigli knows. He never shows up in the movie after his six minutes are up, but it hardly matters. I can’t even describe it. Here’s the link. Watch it and stare into the void in disbelief. I watched it three or four times, trying to understand it, but there was no understanding it. Right at that moment, you could have told me that my whole life was a lie and I was just a sad sap being used as an Asian sex-doll at night for the extremely wealthy on an episode of The Twilight Zone and I would have fucking believed you. It is pure Walken, pure crazy, and it is the only redeeming factor to this otherwise painful experience. So what does the Walken Touch add to the score? About 2 points. So thanks for hurting me Gigli. You get 1 1/2 Gigli’s boss’s bosses out of 10. Now get out of my face, Ben Affleck.

Tomorrow, we watch a REAL comedy! Come back then for Caddyshack!