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The night before the New York Bar exam, candidates geared up to sit for the test are told to just relax. “Calm induces performance” was one instructor’s mantra. So the experts say not to spend your last few hours studying before the big day. Hang out with friends. Watch cartoons. Let your mind wander.
I saw Gigli…which will now officially stand in as the scapegoat if I fail. When all the other rookie lawyers are heading to court, I’ll be outside the courthouse with my bangitout.com baseball hat yelling, “It’s not my fault. Gigli made me dumber!”.
Ok, not exactly. Gigli isn’t the equivalent of cracking a whippit, but it is irredeemably flawed – and unfortunately so, because beyond its dopey, confused, offensive, somewhat embarrassing exterior is an admirably edgy film with some shockingly refreshing doses of adult (emphasis on the first syllable) dialogue and charming (but irrelevant) performances.
Who is to blame considering a semi-impressive talent pool went into creating this minor disaster? Not onlysimchas bound sweethearts Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez – they are both hard at work being the averagely talented, likeable beauties they can’t help but be. Surprisingly, the guilty party is writer/director Martin (Beverly Hills Cop) Brest who, as the captain, must go down with the shi* (insert your own consonant).
Some movies aspire to reflect real life and its limitless variables and potentials (See, Ken Loach’s Sweet Sixteen). Most, though, do not have such lofty goals. They are content to represent themselves for what they are – written. Subjective concoctions of a mortal and finite mind. Within this category there are three types: a.) The kind that aim to feel unwritten b.) The kind that want to feel written c.) (Most movies) The kind that want you to show up and don’t care why.
With Gigli, we are struggling with the very delicate, very precarious type (b). Think about Pulp Fiction, or Quentin Tarantino films in general. He isn’t trying to make you believe that Travolta and Jackson are actually thugs who walk around in black suits and kill people while discussing European cuisine. He wants you to indulge in the words. Yeah, he says, my movie was written and it could never happen and nobody talks like this, but aren’t these the most g-damn interesting and provocative words you’ve ever heard put together.
Brest, who hasn’t written a screenplay since 1979, goes
for that “look at all the cool words” gimmick and strikes out on
innumerable levels. Here are five and then I’m out.
Top five ways in which Martin Brest just didn’t get it
when making Gigli
5.) He writes in a mentally “challenged” character
without deciding what affliction the poor kid has – is it autism, a cerebral
disorder, turrets syndrome? He evidently didn’t care and simply allowed
newcomer Justin Bartha to steal bits from Rain Man, Who’s Eating Gilbert
Grape, and any other “retarded” character in the history of cinema, thereby
creating an entirely impossible and utterly unengaging crucial character
4.) You don’t believe a single word that comes out of
anyone’s mouth when they “act tough”. Jennifer Lopez is not Sigourney
Weaver – she just doesn’t scare anyone. The cast doesn’t fit the script.
The people saying the words would never say them, which is a no-brainer in a
type (b) movie.
3.) The extremely frank sexual conversation (which people
will talk about because of its absurdity and originality) has no place being
here. It’s from a different movie – a better one.
2.) The cameos (Al Pacino, Christopher Walken) and their
unnatural “look who’s here!” awkwardness, while a pleasant diversion from
the actual film, simply add to the confusion.
You can’t combine character types from different movies and put them in
the same one. Either choose sincerity, or caricatures, or irony, or foolishness
– but don’t take the whole spectrum and throw them together and presume
their interactions will coalesce into some wonderful cinematic circus.
If I don’t pass the bar, I’m gunning for you Marty.
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From Jonathan Cochrane: