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PEOPLE MAGAZINE

Critics Toss Bricks at Ben & Jen's Movie

STEPHEN M. SILVERMAN


Get out the Razzies!. The reviews are out, and nobody seems to have a kind word for "Gigli." Just in case you haven't heard, "Gigli," which isn't pronounced the way it looks (but, rather, "Jee-lee"), is a romantic gangster comedy starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, who met on the set and began their storied romance.

But, apparently, what happened offscreen is better than what the stars and their director, Martin Brest ("Beverly Hills Cop," "Meet Joe Black"), left behind.

"'Gigli' is a disaster," declares New York's Daily News, which awards the movie one star (out of four) and tosses the "crude black comedy" on the same funeral pyre as such all-time turkeys as "Ishtar," "Howard the Duck" and "Battlefield Earth."

Reuters, reporting that the flick is being called a low point in movie history -- in the annals of Madonna's "Swept Away" and Mariah Carey's "Glitter" -- singles out one of the movie's more embarrassing moments, a love scene in which Lopez reportedly spreads her legs and informs Affleck, "It's turkey time. Gobble, gobble."

"The 'Gigli' is Up," reported Wednesday's New York Post, which added: "Ben-Jen bomb was made for walking."

The Los Angeles Times, though adhering to the informal industry rule that movies shouldn't be reviewed until the day they open, has tracked the movie's path to disaster, including reputed clashes at a preview screening between director Brest and the head of the studio, Revolution chief Joe Roth, over the finale of the film and its overall pace.

Even though the beach-blanket movie "From Justin to Kelly," based on FOX's "American Idol," grossed only $5 million at the box office when it quickly came and went a few weeks ago, the "Stinker of the Summer" label has been permanently affixed to "Gigli."

The movie opened to derisive reviews and disappointing business this weekend, bringing in only $3.8 million and landing at No. 7 on the Friday-Sunday Top 10 list, according to studio estimates. Actually, "derisive" and "disappointing" are kind adjectives, considering the reaction to the picture, in which Affleck plays a small-time mobster and Lopez plays a midriff-baring lesbian crook.

So low was the turnout for the picture that The New York Times headlined its story: "J.Lo and Affleck Finally Get Some Privacy." The Times reports that the film is not likely to recoup its $54 million cost, and the next Ben-Jen vehicle, "Jersey Girl," has seen its release date pushed back from later this year to the beginning of next year. Analysts credit the move as a means to distance "Jersey Girl" from "Gigli."

Assessing the disaster, Tom Sherak, a principal at the film's producer, Revolution Studios, tells Reuters: "We couldn't separate the movie from their real lives. You don't look at them as actors in this movie. You look at them as Jen and Ben." And critics just didn't like looking at them, at least not in this vehicle, written and directed by Martin Brest ("Meet Joe Black").

A "hopelessly misconceived exercise in celebrity self-worship," wailed The Times, while The Washington Post called it "enervated, torpid, slack, dreary and, oh yes, nasty, brutish and long." Still, the trade paper Variety was kind, saying "Gigli" was "a silly but enjoyably written and performed romantic comedy."  Well, SOMEONE had to like it!

(c) 2003, PEOPLE Magazine

17/09/2014 14:32:31
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