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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Gigli
Columbia/Tri-Star // R // December 9, 2003
List Price: $26.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Randy Miller III | posted December 1, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

You've probably heard all there is to hear about Gigli, by far the most universally lambasted movie of 2003. Let's check out the statistics: Box-office bomb of biblical proportions. Currently holding steady at a 7% approval rating over at RottenTomatoes.com. Ranked as the #3 worst movie of all-time at the Internet Movie Database (at one point, it held the top spot).

"Gigli is precisely as awful as everyone's been saying, and it's a sad state of affairs when a 2+ hour parade of self-adoration can pass for an actual movie."
- Scott Weinberg, Efilmcritic.com

Yeah, you could say it's got a reputation.

So anyway, I wanted to be first in line to grab a review copy, because I was curious; much like a child is drawn towards the gas burner on a stove. You see, most of the people that went out of their way to bash Gigli didn't bother to see it, and I really hate when that happens. No matter how good or bad a movie may be, I'd usually rather see it before I form an opinion, though it was especially hard in this case. I honestly don't remember the last time a movie caused such a critical and commercial backlash as this one did. Usually, it's one extreme or the other: makes money but gets panned by critics (Scooby-Doo, The Cat in the Hat), or ignored by the general public and loved by critics (Rushmore, Memento). Of course, there are exceptions either way: Lord of the Rings is one of the rare examples of a movie that did exceptionally well on both counts. And on the other side of the coin, there's Gigli:

"A grade-A misfire, fantastically uninvolving, a cinematic train wreck of slacked-jawed, distinguished proportions. Read on for more fun..."
- Brent Simon, Entertainment Today

I'll skip the plot synopsis, but the thing that bugged me the most about Gigli was the way it was thrown together. The movie poster hints at a sappy love story, while the trailer is too vague to even hint at anything. While marketing executives are usually at fault for a movie's reception, I really feel sorry for them in this case. Let's see: there's equal parts bad gangster dialogue, a very unconventional love story, a lesbian ex-lover who attempts suicide, and even a mentally handicapped young man who raps and dances for cheap comic relief. How would you sell it?

Yes, these are but a few examples of the strange sequence of events that take place during Gigli. There's no real direction here at all, and not much of a climax either (the only remotely suspenseful scene is over a half-hour before the credits roll). The acting itself is choppy…while Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck have a few bright spots, there's way too much bad dialogue to ever take them seriously. The only scenes of any danger relate to violence, which is usually either confusing or exaggerated. For example, the opening scene shows Larry Gigli (Affleck's character, pronounced GEE-lee) attempting to torture a man by running him through the dryer in a Laundromat. In the background, light-hearted music plays. I don't know if this is supposed to be funny or serious, but it comes across as clumsy. In fact, there's only one funny thing about the scene: the guy in the dryer played Napoleon in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

On a similar note, there's a lot of scenes in this movie that are cruel, resulting in a batch of characters who are really hard to like on any level. There's an alarming amount of foul language and hate spewed forth by nearly every character, making it hard to root for anyone. By the end of the movie's 2-hour running time, you'll most likely be more confused than anything else. This movie wanted to have everything: love, action, comedy; but stumbles in nearly all categories. Heck, Al Pacino and Christopher Walken (appearing in little more than extended cameos) couldn't even save this one. Like me, you might even pop this in one day, hoping to like it…but you probably won't. The few bright spots here are marred by scenes that should have never been filmed, or even written.

"It's worth knowing how to pronounce Gigli because it will enter the vocabulary as a word meaning 'massive box-office flop; an embarrassment caused by Hollywood's inability to say no to powerful creative types. See also: Ishtar."
- Jeffrey Westhoff, Northwest Herald

Gigli is a strange beast of a movie, more of a pop culture curiosity than a statement of any sort. It's a vanity project that wanted to be much more than it was capable of, even though it's not a total loss. In fact, it's a rare case where I really feel sorry for a movie…under a different set of circumstances, it wouldn't have been half bad. But what appears on screen plays out more like a rough draft; an odd mix of high-school humor and soap-opera romance. In any case, you have been warned.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this new DVD boasts one of the fastest release times I've seen yet (it actually premiered in theaters on August 1st). There's not a lot here that salvages what's left of this movie, but let's see what we get:

Quality Control Department

The video here is excellent. Say what you will about the acting, writing, etc., but at least is looks nice. This DVD was a rushed affair, churned out by the good folks at Columbia Tri-Star. As such, it was also produced as cheaply as possible: both fullscreen and widescreen versions are on the same side of this dual-layered disc. I chose the anamorphic widescreen (you know, to get something out of it), and was very pleased with the image quality overall. Shot in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Gigli features a sharp, clean transfer…not surprising, when you consider the movie was just in theaters a few months ago. Overall, despite the possible compression problems that could have occurred, the image holds up nicely, displaying only the slightest bit of edge enhancement.

While not the most immersive soundtrack you'll ever hear, the 5.1 audio mix (presented in either English or French) gets the job done. The music never fights with the dialogue and is actually quite passive. Surrounds are limited, and usually reserved for the music only. This isn't surprising, considering the dialogue-driven nature of the movie, so don't expect to be blown away in the audio department. With that said, it's still a quality presentation.

Not surprisingly, there's no real extras here other than a handful of trailers. Anyway, here's the lineup: Anaconda, Maid in Manhattan, and Mona Lisa Smile; not to mention the trailer for Gigli itself. You know, it's pretty sad when the most appealing movie on that list is friggin' Anaconda, but hey...Ice Cube just has that effect on me.

Menu design and presentation:
Boring ol' static menus. I wasn't expecting much, so no biggie.

Should anything else have been included?

I don't know, the smug cynic in me would have liked to see something. Although there probably wasn't much to pick and choose from, it's pretty obvious that the good folks at Columbia Tri-Star didn't want to call too much attention to themselves. I can't blame them, but who knows? I would have actually liked to hear a commentary from the director. Yes, you heard me: I would have voluntarily listened to an audio commentary for this movie. Maybe it would have helped clear a few things up. I've listened to a few other tracks where directors admit to things they should have changed, and it would have been nice to hear some honesty in this regard. Heck, throw in Ben Affleck for the commentary, too…maybe he could have added a few laughs.

Final Thoughts

This movie is a piece of history, any way you look at it. It stands as being one of the most talked-about movies of the last few years, even if it's for all the wrong reasons. It was far from the worst movie ever made, although it should definitely not be mistaken for a well-made project…it doesn't know where it's going, and wouldn't know what to do even if it got there. As much as it pains me to say, I would encourage those who haven't seen Gigli to Rent It…if you're willing to bash a movie endlessly, make sure you've seen it first. Besides, Ben Affleck needs the extra money to finish payment on that jewel-encrusted toilet seat he bought.

Randy Miller III is a part-time cartooning instructor based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in an art gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, general debauchery, and writing things in third person.
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