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Gigli Reviews

I haven't seen Gigli yet, although I damn well might. I'm always fascinated when a movie that doesn't seem so awful to me (based on my experience seeing it or – in this case – on a talented director and cast) draws such vitriolic reviews. (This time, I think it's exacerbated by general Jen & Ben backlash among the entertainment press, even if most audiences haven't yet caught on.) A few years ago (and a few years after its release) I went to the library and dug up a big pile of reviews from Last Action Hero which was at the time considered a monumental flop. Interestingly, most reviews were mild to apologetic. It was not so much critically lacerated as there was a sense that it had been. These days, with the Internet, it's a new ball game.

Now, I like Jennifer Lopez very much as an actress. Her music doesn't thrill me and the diva stories are pretty silly, but when she's in movies, I like her. I was floored by her performance in Out Of Sight, no matter what anyone says. And I realized that I didn't really know anything about Gigli other than the fact that I liked its director and I knew who the leads were, so I watched the trailer on Apple's website and I have to admit it was pretty cute. Affleck is good and he's funny (he comes from the Kevin Smith school, which is a good place to come from), so he seemed to handle himself okay. Ms. Lopez was fetching as always and her smile crinkled and her eyes danced which is what makes her good. I thought the scene with the Tabasco bottle was pretty funny.

But, that's just my opinion. And we all know that a good (or at least passable) trailer doesn't guarantee a good movie. So I trucked over to Rotten Tomatoes to check out what the reviews looked like. And, because it's that kind of week, I rated them.


"[A]n embarrassment caused by Hollywood's inability to say no to powerful creative types. See also: Ishtar." – Jeffrey Westhoff, NORTHWEST HERALD (CRYSTAL LAKE, IL)
Bad form. This is like "Sports Illustrated" honoring Tiger Woods as Sportsman of the Year in 1996 when his accomplishments that year actually made him eligible for the 1997 title. Lopez and Affleck met on the set of Gigli, so their celebrity couple status didn't exist at the time it was being made, much less green-lit. Hate it if you want, but they can't really be compared to Beatty and Hoffman.
1 stars

"A torpid dud starring the cuddly celebrity twosome of the moment." – Steven Rea, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
Again, blame the actors if their performances are inadequate, but don't blame their celebrity couplehood for the quality of the movie. You can even blame Sony for exploiting Bennifermania in its promotion of the film if you want to make that stretch, although how exactly were they supposed to release a film starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez without mentioning that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are in it? But tying the movie's failure to their relationship is as silly as crediting their relationship if it had been a success.
0 1/2 stars

"A rigli, rigli bad movie." – Bruce Newman, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS
Whoa! Whoa, whoa, whoa. This is worse than those Saturday Night Live skits that make fun of critics like Gene Shalit who have to construct every review out of moronic puns. Besides, much has been made out of how nobody knows that Gigli is pronounced "JEE-lee" instead of "jiggly" anyway, so you've shot yourself in the foot with that. At least "Gigli – rhymes with 'really' as in 'really, really bad movie.'" would have been something. But even then, when you're roasting a film for being groan-inducingly unfunny, you undermine your critique by being even worse.
0 stars

"[O]ne of the worst movies I've ever seen." – Richard Roeper, EBERT & ROEPER
Now really, how are we responsible for the fact that Roeper has never seen Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2?
2 stars

"Rarely has a movie that doesn't star Madonna achieved such a skin-crawling mixture of deluded preening and bungled humour." – Liam Lacey, GLOBE AND MAIL
I just enjoy this because here he is reviewing one bad movie, and he can't resist lashing out with an unprovoked attack on Madonna. Well played.
4 stars

"Guys, I'm telling you: Don't go to this movie! It's Chasing Amy with guns! You're walking into a trap!" – Desson Howe, WASHINGTON POST
This is interesting, because judging from the trailer, I thought the studio might have been pulling the Home Fries trick of marketing a film as something it's entirely not. If so, then it's a shame and it certainly explains why audiences aren't biting. (As an aside, Desson Howe is an absolute moron of a film reviewer. It's no surprise that his review would get off topic like this; in my experience he rarely bothers to review the film at all. I remember a review of Stir Of Echoes that devoted two hundred words to Kevin Bacon's abs.)
2 stars

"It's the stuff Mystery Science Theater 3000s are made of." – Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
He he! I still believe I could make millions with my invention: a double-disc DVD player where you put the movie in one slot and a special MST3K disc in the second one, which only contains the voiceover and the characters at the bottom of the screen. The machine combines the two and sends them to the TV, allowing the MST3K producers to take on new releases and removing the chief reason the show stopped airing – they'll no longer have to buy the rights to the movies because their disc will just happen to sync up with Gigli or The Adventures of Pluto Nash or Battlefield Earth.
3 1/2 stars

"I wonder what would happen if you sweated 15 minutes out of this movie. Maybe it would work. The materials are there." – Roger Ebert, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
Aha! This validates my feeling that the story and the performances might not necessarily be terrible, just mismatched or mishandled. No stranger to the concept of "sweating out," Ebert gives the film a compliment, albeit backhanded. I really liked Midnight Run. I want to believe Brest has it in him.
3 stars

"Nearly as unwatchable as it is unpronounceable." – Manohla Dargis, LOS ANGELES TIMES
Manohla and I don't often agree on movies, but I know that out of all the "serious" film critics, she is the most likely to give a movie a chance before panning it. And, rare among her colleagues, her reviews are usually supported by fine evidence. So, this one worries me a bit.
2 1/2 stars

"This isn't a good film, but, when set alongside the likes of Dumb and Dumberer and Legally Blonde 2, Jen & Ben offer less pain." – James Berardinelli, JAMES BERARDINELLI'S REELVIEWS
My point exactly. It's no argument that you should go out and see Gigli, but I think it makes a good case for moderating the bile that reviewers are spewing.
3 1/2 stars

"As far as all this worrying about what this weekend's Gigli reception means for Jersey Girl - don't waste your energy. We're gonna be fine. Apples and oranges. Shit, apples and blowjobs, really. No further prognostication necessary. [...] Whatever's gonna happen's gonna happen. If it's any consolation, I'm not sweating it. I've seen Jersey Girl with audiences. I know all the stuff regarding the release plans for the flick that we don't talk about here. And while I'm sorry that Gigli didn't do better this weekend, its critical reaction and box office take won't have the slightest effect on Jersey Girl. Take my word for it." – Kevin Smith, VIEWASKEW.COM
Hellyeah. Smith's Jersey Girl also stars Affleck and Lopez. Filmed second, it was contractually prohibited from opening in theaters until after Gigli. I hope Smith is right; it would help prove my point that Gigli is just a plain old misfire and the hype surrounding the couple isn't responsible for its fate.
5 stars

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