In the industry, they call a movie as ridiculously bad and borderline offensive as "Gigli" a career-killer. That's really a misnomer, however, since no movie can really kill a career. Not in Hollywood. Not even when it's as completely wrong-headed as this alleged dark comedy.

The idea here seems to be to turn "Rain Man" into a gangster thriller — then to change its story focus halfway through the movie. (Think of Affleck's 1997 film "Chasing Amy" and you'll get the picture.)

Despite all the reshoots, rewrites, re-edits and other changes, this is one awful movie. In fact, it sort of makes you wonder how awful it was before all that.

Needless to say, this is not the career team-up that Hollywood super-couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez needed.

Affleck stars as the title character, a palooka with the rather unlikely name of Larry Gigli. Larry is working as a low-level hoodlum, shaking down people for payments and extortion money. His latest "assignment" has him kidnapping Brian Dorff (Justin Bartha), the mentally handicapped brother of a federal prosecutor. The idea is that this prosecutor will soften his stance on his latest case, which involves a New York mobster (Al Pacino, over-the-top, as always).

Needless to say, it's a big assignment, which explains why Larry suddenly finds himself teamed with Ricki (Lopez). Ricki's a pro. And her presence is supposed to ensure the job gets done. But there's one further complication: She's also a lesbian, which becomes a problem when Larry starts falling for her.

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This messy film is so badly paced that it actually feels longer than some of director Martin Brest's other, marathon-length movies (chiefly "Meet Joe Black"). None of it is nearly as funny — or as shocking — as Brest intends it to be.

Affleck's hilariously bad tough-guy inflection does seem to have been cribbed from John Travolta's old Vinnie Barbarino character. And Lopez isn't even remotely believable here — even as Affleck's love interest!

"Gigli" is rated R for frequent use of strong, sexual profanity and slang, other crude sexual talk, simulated sex, violence (a shooting), gore, brief partial female nudity and brief drug content (a hypodermic injection of insulin). Running time: 124 minutes.


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