Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck are in love and plan to get married, as you already know unless you are sealed off from all media, in which case you are not reading this review, so put it down. Because they are a famous couple, starring in a movie romance, we expect something conventional and predictable and that is not what we get from "Gigli." The movie tries to do something different, thoughtful, and a little daring with their relationship, and although it doesn't quite work, maybe the movie is worth seeing for some scenes that are really very good.
Consider the matching monologues. They've gotten into an argument over the necessity of the penis, which she, as a lesbian, feels is an inferior device for delivering sexual pleasure. He delivers an extended lecture on the use, necessity and perfect design of the appendage. It is a rather amazing speech, the sort of thing some moviegoers are probably going to want to memorize. Then she responds. She is backlit, dressed in skintight workout clothes, doing yoga, and she continues to stretch and extend and bend and pose as she responds with her speech in praise of the vagina. When she is finished, Reader, the vagina has won, hands down. It is so rare to find dialogue of such originality and wit, so well written, that even though we know the exchange basically involves actors showing off, they do it so well, we let them.
Affleck plays Larry Gigli, rhymes with "Geely," and one wonders, learning that they rejected several earlier titles for the movie, which ones could have been worse than this. He's an errand boy for a tough-talking Los Angeles mobster named Louis (Lenny Venito). Louis wants to do a favor for a New York mob boss, and orders Gigli to kidnap the mentally retarded brother of a federal prosecutor. Gigli does, walking out of a care facility with Brian (Justin Bartha), who has Rain Man's syndrome. He takes him home, there is a knock on the door, and he meets Ricki (Lopez), who is also a mob enforcer. Louis is taking no chances and has assigned both of them to guard the boy.
This is the set-up for an obvious plot that the movie, written by director Martin Brest, wisely avoids. Instead of falling in love and psychically adopting Brian, or (alternate cliche) fighting all the time, Gigli and Ricki get to like each other very, very much, even though she makes it perfectly clear that she is a lesbian. So resolute is the movie in its idea of her character that she doesn't even cave in and have a conversion experience, which is what we're expecting, but remains a lesbian--as indeed, as a good lesbian, she should.