Toilet Paper



Release Date: August 1, 2003
Runtime: 121 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Director: Martin Brest
Cast: Ben Affleck; Jennifer Lopez; Justin Bartha; Missy Crider; Al Pacino; Christopher Walken

I admit, I went to this film out of morbid curiosity; to see what all the bad buzz was about. Maybe I would see something that the rest of the world did not, something that may redeem this feature, at least in my eyes. Alas, I did not. This has to be one of the worst pieces of celluloid crap ever inflicted upon the mainstream movie-going public. I was actually groaning as I left the theater.

First, let me outline the basic plot, if you can call it that. Larry Gigli (Ben) is a small­ time thug, although as much of a wimp as he is, it’s funny that he chose this particular line of work, who is contracted by Louis (Larry Venito) to kidnap Brian (Justin Bartha), the mentally handicapped younger brother of a federal prosecutor, who has it in for Louis’s big-time New York mobster (is there any other kind?) boss. The rationale here is that the mobsters will be able to turn up the heat on the prosecutor by holding his brother hostage, thereby getting their mobster boss off the hook. But since Gigli is such an incompetent fool, Louis contracts ANOTHER thug, Ricki (Jen), to keep an eye on him. The two bicker, Larry gets frustrated at Brian’s mental state (rather offensively, in fact), Ricki does some yoga, and, just when you think the two of them might hit it, the bombshell drops …..she’s gay. This is the second movie (after the much better, even though I didn’t care for it, “Chasing Amy”) that presumes that a good Affleck-ing can turn a gay girl straight. How stupid. He couldn’t turn a swizzle stick straight! I mean, what’s the point of even having the gay angle if they are just going to end up between the sheets anyway? Perhaps if this movie was a straight-up (no pun intended!) drama of sexual confusion it might work, but seeing as how this movie doesn’t know what the hell it is trying to be, it just seems like a roadblock…not only to Larry, but to the coherency of the story as well.

Then there are the performances. Ben Affleck has about as much on-screen charisma here as a door stop. The most interesting thing about his character was his hair, a sort of Elvis-esque pompadour that made his head look enormous. His accent was stereotypical New Jersey mobster, yet the story took place in Southern California. His constant yammering became so tedious after a while that I just wanted him to SHUT UP!! His posing scene in front of the mirror, before the now famous “It’s turkey time” sex scene (as embarrassing as you’ve heard), was cringe worthy.

And J Lo. You’re a beautiful girl, you look fantastic here and I love the earthier, natural side that you expose here as opposed to the ‘Jenny From The Block’ character. But your yoga scene was, again, embarrassing. Quite unexpectedly, I found the monologue about the vagina and how it is superior to the penis to be very unique and interesting; there was actually some profundity to the words.  But your yoga posturing while you spoke those words was so distracting that all meaning was in serious danger of being lost. If I closed my eyes and just listened to the words, I probably would’ve walked away remembering some of what was said. But, instead, all I can remember from that ridiculous scene was your camel-toe.

Justin Bartha isn’t so bad at first. In fact, for a while you are led to think that he may inject some much needed emotion or life into this mess, but, as the picture drags on, and he keeps stuttering like the bastard child of Rain Man, endlessly asking when the trio are going to go to “the Baywatch,” you find yourself wanting to shut him up as well. You know a movie is in trouble when you want to kill the one character that you are supposed to feel genuine sympathy for…ESPECIALLY IF THE DAMN KlD IS MENTALLY CHALLENGED!!

As for the other characters, the three big league cameos (Lainie Kazan as Gigli’s obnoxious mother, Christopher Walken as a fed who mumbles something (I was drifting off during his scene), Al Pacino as Brian’s big-time mobster brother) are, you guessed it, embarrassing. Especially Pacino. He does nothing more than return the favor to director Martin Brest for having directed him to an Oscar for “Scent of a Woman.” He yells, yells, and yells some more at the top of his Pacino lungs in a performance so over the top that he must’ve gotten indigestion from all the scenery he chewed. Missy Crider shows up briefly as Ricki’ s psychotic ex­ girlfriend in a scene so out of place that it makes you wince at how wrong this particular scene is in this film. The whole thing is just ludicrous. What are we watching? A romance, a drama, or a violent gangster pic? If the picture doesn’t know, how the hell are we supposed to?


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