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Gigli

if it makes $22 this week, that was us

To me, this is a clear-cut case of celebrity backlash. People got tired of seeing Ben & Jen plastered everywhere and were ready to snipe at whatever project came along. If anything, all of this venting may help Jersey Girl because people will get it out of their system. I'm not saying Gigli was perfect – far from it. But it was certainly as acceptable as about any other movie this year. The lesbian angle was somewhat weak, managing to disappear even more quickly than it did in Chasing Amy, which for me was still a stretch of believability. I'd agree that it could be left out entirely – leave it that the challenge to their relationship is simply that Gigli is a slobbering ignoramus – except that would probably negate any reason for Lopez's brilliant vagina monologue. Other than that, an overly schmaltzy ending, and a few too many times when the mentally disabled kid is played for yuks, this was an okay movie. The score could have been toned down a bit in the "poignant" moments, but that's true of just about anything. (See Ed.)

I'm entirely aware of my reputation for liking unlikable movies, but I believe strongly that a) my standards have in fact improved lately (see League); and b) I am at least conscious of when I'm liking a movie for my own reasons and any other sane viewer would hate it. I think the bristling chemistry and charming characters of Gigli make it a joy to watch, and the much-lamented cameos by Al Pacino and Christopher Walken are hilarious and well played. I don't know that much about what other reviewers hated so much (and it's not my job to defend against them), but one thing I recall is that people felt the dialogue was stupid. I wholeheartedly disagree. I was even listening for it, and aside from "turkey time" which was just godawful, the dialogue was fine. Most of Affleck's lines were very stupid, but they were funny because he's playing a stupid, inarticulate guy. The whole cow/bull thing is moronic, but it's funny because it's moronic, and Affleck (in my opinion) plays the nuances of his idiot character deftly, straight enough to convince us that Gigli is taking it seriously but with enough flair that it's clear Affleck isn't. Lopez is beautiful, engaging, and tough. Just like she was in Out Of Sight, a favorite of mine.

Believe me, I'm all for chastising bad movies when movies are bad. And they can be bad for many reasons: script, director, cast, music, the possibilities are as endless as the list of film craftsmen making their breathless plea against piracy in the new theater ads. But calling a movie bad just because you're tired of seeing its high-profile couple on magazine covers is missing the target. Call the magazines bad; at least it's their fault that the couple is on the cover.

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