Both halves of the original Bennifer—Ben Affleck + Jennifer Lopez—happened to be in the news this week, or at least in the most up-to-the-minute water-cooler conversations. The Town, the second Boston-set no-smiles crime opus co-written, directed by, and starring Affleck, premiered at the Venice Film Festival last weekend to mostly respectful notices, and it opens nationwide today. Meanwhile, word spread that Lopez will reportedly collect $12 million for sitting next to Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson at the American Idol judges' table next season, her alleged diva demands notwithstanding. What better time, then, to revisit Gigli, in which Affleck and Lopez star as polar-opposite lowlifes? The film is available to "watch instantly" on Netflix—and of course it remains a sad staple of discount DVD bins everywhere.
Gigli was released in theaters roughly seven years ago, to famously disastrous results. Critics were aghast; a handful of people paid to see it. The film went on to win six Razzies, which are a sort of opposite-day version of the Oscars. For the record, Gigli is still awful. But this misguided character study, about a hotheaded goon, Larry Gigli (Affleck, who actually seems like he's having fun here), and a soulful lesbian mobster named Ricki (Lopez), is uniquely hilarious. The two leads do an extended oil-and-water routine while holding captive Brian (Justin Bartha), a federal prosecutor's mentally challenged brother. But the career criminals grow fond of each other after being cooped up together for a long spell in Larry's Los Angeles bachelor pad. It's not that stars don't have chemistry, but that the screenplay, by Martin Brest, who also directed, describes their character arcs so unconvincingly. Ricki discovers alluring "feminine leanings" in Larry—based almost solely upon the way he extends his arm and flattens his hand to look at his fingernails (instead of curling his fingers inward).