The old-style Scorsese gangster is a thing of the past, but like a dead opossum you can't stop poking with a stick, Hollywood just can't let go of the concept. After all, what could be more engrossing to the infantile interests of Hollywood than gunplay, elaborate dismemberments, brain matter sliding down glass and dialogue in which every other word is "fuck"?
In an attempt to spice up this dying genre, Gigli adds some exotic new twists to the goombah banquet of blood. For one thing, its central gangster, Larry Gigli (Ben Affleck), is a neurotic post-mafioso in a "Sopranos" leather jacket and Elvis hair. Like his confreres on HBO, Gigli has gone all sensitive and begun to question the wisdom of his thuggery.
The crux of Gigli is as simple-minded as they come. A powerful mob boss is going to the Big House unless someone can "get to" the federal prosecutor. Gigli is dispatched to kidnap the prosecutor's mentally challenged kid brother Brian (Justin Bartha). Heaping some Rain Man on top of its Get Shorty, director Martin Brest uses the kid for comic effect as a bumbling foil to uptight hood Gigli.
Another crimp is made in Gigli's plan when a mob lackey is brought in to help baby-sit. Enter Ricki (Jennifer Lopez), in her low-riding, butt dimple-flaunting pants, silver rings and sassy ways. This hip, new-style lesbian gangster lays some head-spinning Eastern thought on Gigli that confuses his already addled brain.
And before you can say, "America's Hottest Couple ... in Bed!" they are!
Never mind that Ricki plays for the other team, does yoga and reads Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh's Being Peace every night before she goes to bed. There's something about a sensitive gangster that strikes deep in a woman, even a gay one.
Gigli professes to be femme-centric. When a bunch of teenage hoods threaten Gigli, Ricki ambles over in her micro miniskirt and talks a badass streak about an Asian eye-gouging technique she may unleash on them. When Gigli acts all penis-centric, Ricki clues him into what women really want (hint: it's not fellatio). But Gigli is original gangsta to the core. Screenwriter / director Brest (Scent of a Woman, Beverly Hills Cop) uses lesbianism much in the same way it uses Eastern philosophy -- as a fancy party trick and neato way to stop conversation.
Like the readers of Penthouse Forum, Gigli is the kind of film that believes in the heart of every lesbian lurks a woman who just needs to get laid. Lesbianism is a saucy hook in this slippery, slimy, slutty crime picture playing every possible hand in the hopes of something, anything coming up aces.
Lopez is overall up to the task of playing the archetypal California-style dream babe who reads Buddhist philosophy but is cool enough to head-bop to the latest rap song. Affleck fares less well, looking sapped of all his precious bodily fluids next to Lopez's life force.
By the film's conclusion, which involves Al Pacino doing the bipolar erudite / vicious gangster thing, it is clear where Gigli's romance is headed. Gigli is a film insistent on hooking up, not only Gigli and Ricki, but also the retarded kid and the "Baywatch" fantasy lay he imagines on the beaches of L.A. His sexual desire is supposed to be cute, but in this film's hands, it's just sleazy. As sleazy as a comedy involving brain tissue and thumb amputation and every other nasty trick in this forgettable mess.
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