On Monday we were all hit with the news that Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck are dating again, 17 years after they broke off their engagement in 2004. While we wish the couple well, we think it's worth noting that their last relationship led to one of the worst movies ever made. Yes, of course, we're talking about Gigli, a critical and box office failure so big that it legitimately ruined careers.
The film came out during the summer of 2003, smack-dab in the middle of "Bennifer" mania. Affleck and Lopez had been engaged for about a year. The movie told the tale of Larry Gigli (Affleck), a low-level Los Angeles mobster who isn't as tough as his exterior shows. Lopez plays "Ricki" a tough lesbian who is sent to assist Gigli during a kidnapping. I'll spare you the rest of the plot details because it makes no sense. Suffice to say the end the pair wind up together as the ridiculous story winds its way to a merciful close.
On the surface, this film had potential. Martin Brest wrote and directed it, and he had a string of critical and commercial successes to his name, like Beverly Hills Cop, Midnight Run and Scent of a Woman. The cast also had some heft, as Affleck and Lopez were joined by a young Justin Bartha, Al Pacino and Christopher Walken. That's a pretty solid group of people who have all been in a number of successful movies.
Unfortunately for everyone involved, the movie was raked over the coals before it even hit theaters. Reviews were resoundingly negative -- and I mean really negative. Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper both gave the film thumbs down, with Roeper calling it "a disaster" and "one of the worst movies I've ever seen," before putting it on his list of the worst movies of the decade. It currently has an approval rating of six percent on Rotten Tomatoes with the critical consensus reading, "Bizarre and clumsily plotted, Gigli is a mess. As for its stars, Affleck and Lopez lack chemistry." Yikes.
If you're bored, the list of critic reviews for the film on Rotten Tomatoes is quite something. A sampling: "There is no reason to see this film," "The film isn't just bad, it's jaw-droppingly bad," "It's every bit as atrocious as you may have heard. Nay, worse," "Mere words fail to express the awfulness of Martin Brest's Gigli." Perhaps my favorite came from Newsweek's Jeff Giles, "After the schadenfreudian thrill of watching beautiful people humiliate themselves wears off, it has the same annihilating effect on your will to live."
The movie boasted a robust budge of $75.6 million and made just $7.2 million, classifying it as one of the biggest bombs in box office history.
Affleck even did an entire appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno where he talked about how awful it was and even read reviews on-air:
How bad was it? Well, Brest hasn't worked since. You read that right, an Academy Award-nominated director who had a number of big hits on his resume did Gigli and hasn't made a film in the ensuing 18 years.
For Affleck and Lopez things went downhill fast. The movie was released on August 1, 2003 and they called off their planned wedding ceremony in September. They broke up in January of 2004.
Now they're dating again, which, hey, good for them. But I would implore the two of them, for the sake of humanity and their own relationship: never work together again.