“One of the most hated rom-coms of all time.”
“The movie that should have ended Ben Affleck’s acting career.”
“One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.”
2003 marked the year of Gigli, a movie with no artistic merit but major importance in pop culture history as the tarnished platter on which Bennifer was served to the world. Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck met on the set of Gigli and were engaged by the time of its release, despite her being married to Cris Judd at the time of filming. The pair ushered in the first ever celebrity couple blended nickname—Bennifer. Today’s generation identifies their courtship mainly through vintage paparazzi photos and the iconic ass grab from the “Jenny from the Block” music video. The rekindled lovers reunited over the weekend, confirming romance rumors with not-at-all staged yacht photos in which Ben covered his enormous back tattoo with a button-down (as if we’d forget, Ben).
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On the tails of the couple’s Instagram announcement, I’ll celebrate the official coming out of Bennifer 2.0, but I’ll never forgive them for Gigli, the couple’s cursed love child, now 18 years old.
With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 6%, Gigli sits at the top of Yahoo Movies’ worst-rated movies of all time list. One of the greatest flops in cinematic history, the film earned $7 million at the box office against a $76 million budget. After only a few weeks on the big screen, the movie was pulled from most theaters across the country, and its writer and director, Martin Brest, has not worked on another film since.
How did Ben Affleck, having just written the Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting, and J.Lo, once named Forbes’ “Most Powerful Celebrity in the World,” come together to create such pure chaos? How is this movie that bad?
I thought I’d get better use out of my film studies minor than this, but hey, I watched it so you don’t have to.
This is a movie about a mobster named Larry Gigli, which despite being pronounced as “jee-lee,” has already been cemented into your mind as “jiggly.” Larry Gigli is instructed to kidnap a prosecutor’s mentally disabled brother under the close watch of his fellow enforcer-turned-sexy-babysitter, Ricki (J.Lo).
In his groundbreaking, never-before-seen portrayal of “Italian Mobster Who Resents Opinions of Women,” Affleck leads the film, which follows Ricki and Gigli as newfound partners in the New York mob scene. But wait—trouble is ahead for Gigli as he learns that Ricki, with her mini-skirts and blown-out hair, is a lesbian. Don’t fret—the gay agenda is no match for this early 2000s white heartthrob.
The plot details of Gigli are so confusing that not even a Wikipedia page could keep me on track. Somewhere between Christopher Walken’s early monologue as a suspicious detective who never again appears in the movie and the mutilation of a corpse, I got lost. I traced the lines on Ben’s massive back Phoenix and made my way home to the central plot of this god-awful movie.
Tasked with hiding Brian, the prosecutor’s brother, the duo lies low. Flying under the radar like any good mobsters, Gigli and Ricki drive the hostage through every street in Los Angeles in a top-down convertible. Discreet. During an unexplained pit stop at her house, Gigli introduces Ricki to his mother, who takes a liking to her, despite her being a lesbian. “Never mind,” says mom, “She’s been with fellas before, am I right, darling?”
We hard cut to J.Lo doing near-naked candlelit yoga as Gigli looks on, sporting the “I can turn her” game face. The pair begin a classic battle of the sexes debate: Gigli’s “frontier conquering” and “obstacle eradicating” penis versus her vagina, wrapping up their discussion with longing stares as out-of-place romantic music swells in the background. The romance is quickly interrupted by a call from the mob boss instructing Gigli to cut off Brian’s finger, because why not? The mafia does that, right?
CONTENT WARNING: The following section contains discussion of suicide, which may be upsetting to some readers.
The following day, Ricki’s ex-girlfriend shows up at the door of this highly discreet mafia hideout and slits her wrists. Gigli and Co. take her to the hospital, where our leading man removes the finger of a corpse in the morgue to spare Brian’s and we literally never speak of the ex-girlfriend again. After the romance of a violent suicide attempt and the aromas of the morgue, Gigli confesses his love, calling Ricki a “fucking untouchable, unhaveable, unattainable brick wall f*cking dyke-a-saurus rex.”
That’s a direct quote.
Having been swept off her feet via sexual harassment, Ricki opens herself to love and sleeps with Larry Gigli. Now, while everyone involved with the making of this monstrosity should be brought up on criminal charges, the real enemy is the writer who made Jenny from the Block turn the words “it’s turkey time” into dirty talk, having her literally say, “It’s turkey time. Gobble, gobble” as an invitation for sex. Accused of ruining cinema and the careers of two Hollywood darlings, Gigli has now ruined oral sex.
The duo is called to meet with the mob’s top dog, played by Al Pacino, whose involvement in this movie is such a betrayal it brought a tear to my eye. Pacino kills one of his mafiosos on the spot before turning his attention to Gigli and Ricki, who come within an inch of their life, only to be saved by Ricki’s feminine superpower—basic communication. The pair escape safely and leave the mob life together.
In the end, Ricki breaks it off, vowing to go “somewhere clean”—a line I’m still left wondering about. Ricki and Gigli drive Brian to the beach and, I guess, leave him there? Through tears, Gigli gives Ricki his car and, I guess, walks home?
At a painstaking two-hour runtime, Gigli is a movie about toxic masculinity winning out in the end. By 2003’s standards, a tough guy in a Zara leather shacket is an unstoppable force, and in the end he gets his girl (whether she wants to be there or not). The 2021 version of Gigli would likely end with Ricki stealing the car and—just kidding, there is no 2021 version of this mess. The tear-jerking closing line is as follows: “as far as the lesbian thing goes, if you ever think about hopping the fence, give me a call.” The two share a final kiss and Ricki drives away to the melancholy notes of a violin.
That is, until minutes later when Ricki returns to pick up Gigli and the two drive off into the sunset together.
Following production of the world’s worst movie, Ben Affleck placed multiple trade ads all over Los Angeles, amounting to thousands of dollars a pop. These ads were often taken out by industry executives to congratulate other industry names on their recent achievements, very insider baseball. Affleck’s ad was a love letter to Jennifer (married at the time), reading, “You have shown kindness, dedication, diligence, humility, graciousness of spirit, beauty in courage, great empathy, astonishing talent, real poise and true grace. It has been nothing but an honor and a pleasure to work with you. I only wish I were lucky enough to be in all your movies. With love, respect and gratitude, Ben Affleck.” Hey @Tinx, what box is this?
By 2004, J.Lo had married Marc Anthony, Ben Affleck had made out with Jennifer Garner at a World Series game, and Gigli had been forgotten.
Too often, we hear stories of star-crossed lovers parting ways after tragedy; some wounds are too deep to recover from. I can’t speak for Bennifer, but as a pop-culture enthusiast, I can never go back to a time before Gigli. Following the big-screen flop, Gigli’s ghost haunted late-night monologues and SNL sketches but was laid to rest following the breakup of Hollywood’s It Couple. The impact of this truly awful piece of cinema underscores every Bennifer headline or Deux Moi blind item. For their performances in Gigli, Jen and Ben won Razzie Awards for worst actor, actress, and on-screen couple of the year, but something tells me the combined $24 million paycheck helped the couple sleep at night.
Somewhere in the French Riviera aboard multi-million-dollar yachts, with her newsworthy six-pack and his rainbow body art (third reference in the can), Bennifer is locking eyes and thinking, “it’s turkey time.” While somewhere in Los Angeles, A-Rod is weeping.
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Images: jlo / Instagram; Featureflash Photo Agency