August 1, 2003
Martin Brest directed his first full-length feature, Hot Tomorrows, 25 years ago. Since that time, he has remained a presence in Hollywood despite the fact that his output was limited to an average of roughly one film every four or five years. Brest is a man who chooses his project carefully, finding a measure of success with Beverly Hills Cop, Midnight Run and the Academy Award® nominated Scent of a Woman, but after the unmitigated critical and financial disaster of 1998’s Meet Joe Black, the director has decided to work from his first self-penned screenplay since 1979’s delightful Going in Style.
The film formerly shared its title with the name of its lead character, Gigli. This name is pronounced “jee’-ly”, but think of it with a bit of an Italian inflection. It’s a crime comedy in the talky Tarantino vein with gangsters, a mentally handicapped individual, and a lesbian (complete with rumored girls kissing scene). Showing once again its ability to draw big names to productions, Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios has helped the director to assemble an impressive cast that includes Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Christopher Walken and Al Pacino (in a cameo role).
Affleck takes on the primary role of Gigli, a lowly hit man working for a California mobster named Louis. Because the crime boss has a friend who is about to be sent to jail by a diligent L.A. federal prosecutor, Louis assigns the assassin to kidnap the attorney’s mentally handicapped younger brother and hold him hostage. Gigli abducts his charge from a care facility and holes up in his own apartment but is surprised when a beautiful woman named Ricki (Lopez) whisks into the place, saying that Louis had sent her to keep Gigli from screwing up on the job. Though Ricki is a lesbian, the two apparently become very close to one another as well as their hostage. Will Gigli get the girl? Will the two of them be able to follow through on their assignment if things have to get bloody? Will our contract killers with hearts of gold ultimately change their ways? I’m sure all of these and many other trite questions will be dealt with before the film’s end, leaving it up to the director to push the film to a deft, convincing resolution.
Though budget details are unavailable, Affleck’s salary for the film was $12.5 million while Lopez was able to negotiate a hefty $12 million payday in addition to, ahem, back-end profits. Since Meet Joe Black’s budget was a stratospheric $90 million, we can probably assume that Tough Love will need a solid opening in addition to solid staying power to be a profit for Columbia and Sony. The fact that they currently are planning for an early May 2003 release does indicate some confidence from the studio but since the film is neither action packed nor effects driven, it’s not exactly the definition of a summer tentpole release. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Comparison films for Gigli
|Sum of All Fears, The
|Meet Joe Black
|Wedding Planner, The
|Out of Sight (1998)
|Grosse Pointe Blank
|Scent of a Woman