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Home > Film

A jubilant Brian jigs awkwardly on the sand

Charlie Skelton

4 October 2003

The Holocaust was a bad idea well executed. Gigli (in cinemas now) is quite the reverse.

The premise is a good one: a sexually-confused hoodlum and a kick-ass lesbian kidnap a mentally-handicapped teenager and together they forge an oddly functional family unit. Cast the hottest couple in Hollywood as your leads, chuck in cameos from Walken and Pacino, and what have you got?

Well, put it this way: you know how on Star Trek sometimes a junior crew member will go through the Transporter and get his molecules jiggled up by accident and what emerges from the beam will have an arm coming out of its chest and its kidneys where its face should be and someone has to shoot the quivering screaming mess of flesh and cloth to put it out of its misery? That’s Gigli.

Take Jennifer’s ‘it’s turkey time’ line, where she’s lolled back on the bed, demanding oral gratification from the understandably nervous Affleck. ‘Gobble gobble’ she insists, which is a come-on that Jabba the Hutt could just about carry off, but not our Jenny. It introduces – just at the point when Jennifer expects Ben to plunge his face between her spread legs – a serious of unfortunate visual images. The fleshy openings of a freshly butchered turkey. Flappy and cold.

At best, somewhere you might plunge your fist to grab at a streaky bag of giblets. Then, with the words ‘gobble gobble’, the turkey is suddenly resurrected and we are presented with a vision of the gobbling, wobbly throat-flesh of a live (and possibly scared) turkey. Not sexy.

On the subject of not sexy, the ‘in praise of the vagina’ yoga scene is absolutely unbelievable. Jennifer, in a pair of tight shorts and a skimpy top, bends and stretches and shoves her snatch at the camera for what seems like 73 hours while talking about things like (and I kid you not): “the sacred mystery between a woman’s legs that I am proud to call my pussy.” It’s perhaps the only scene that I’ve ever found more embarrassing than the bit in Buck Rogers where Buck tries to teach the future how to disco dance. I only stayed sane during it by imagining her farting every time she threw a shape.

But bad as this scene is, they saved the worst till last. The movie ends with Brian, the handicapped character, who was kidnapped from a cheerless home for the disabled at the start of the film, gleefully joining a Baywatch-style beach party which is being filmed for MTV or something. Brian has been obsessed all movie long with ‘going to the Baywatch’ – this is his dream come true. Ben looks on from the roadside, smiling, as a jubilant Brian jigs awkwardly on the sand among the assorted studs and hardbodies. This is the big, life-affirming crescendo of the movie, and it’s nothing short of grotesque.

Brian could so easily have been accepted by Ben and Jennifer as a positive part of their family unit (as it is they simply drive off into the sunset without him). Instead, the character is ‘accepted’ by the beautiful people of Venice Beach – presumably for the duration of one song, until the director of the video notices him and hauls him off set. And it’s back to the special home for Brian. He’s had his treat. He’s happy. Now he can go back in the cupboard and Bennifer can drive off with a clear conscience.

So yes, this is giant cock-up (vagina-up?) of a movie, but it demands viewing. It is too big and too wrong to ignore. Not unlike the Holocaust. It is neither as great nor as terrible as Swept Away – the Madonna / Guy Ritchie fiasco (its closest screen cousin) – but still... It is one of those strange bits of cultural history that cannot be allowed to slip away quietly into the dark - as happened, tragically, to Crocodile Dundee III. In many ways, Jennifer's vagina is to Gigli what Mike Tyson is to Dundee III - it is the film's raison d'aller.

And go you must. Don’t get put off by the bad reviews. Grab a couple of friends, have a few drinks, buy a big bag of Revels, sit back, take a deep breath and… gobble gobble.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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