August 11, 2003 12:00 PM

Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez

This misguided romantic comedy goes wrong so often and in such profoundly lunkheaded ways that to say it stinks would be bordering on polite understatement, akin to labeling an irked skunk as faintly fragrant. Gigli, of course, is the film during the making of which the romantic juggernaut known as Bennifer (or should it be Jennufleck?) was launched. One only hopes Affleck and Lopez’s life together will be better than this joint effort.

Mostly, Gigli is a gigantic bore, lacking story, speed and sense. Affleck galumphs through as Larry Gigli (“rhymes with really,” he says), a dim thug assigned to kidnap the mentally retarded kid brother (Justin Bartha) of a federal prosecutor, a plot that goes nowhere and plays as distastefully as it sounds. Lopez turns up as Ricki, an enforcer assigned to oversee Affleck. Will these two hit the hay despite Ricki’s being gay? Maybe, but first they’ll endlessly debate the differences between the sexes, including a near-clinical discussion of genitalia.

Writer-director Martin Brest (Meet Joe Black) can’t decide if Gigli is a comedy, a character study or a crime drama, ending up with an ungainly hybrid. Lopez has her moments, but she too often seems unduly self-satisfied, purring like a cat that’s just finished the cream. (R)


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