NEW YORK – Is Gigli Italian for turkey?
According to early reviews it is. The movie that brought "Bennifer" together has been called a bomb set to detonate in theaters when it opens Aug. 1.
Although Jennifer Lopez (search) and Ben Affleck (search) are the paparazzi's favorites, movie critics are apparently not big fans of the couple as co-stars. And while a tabloid with the pair splashed on the cover garners huge sales, their film debut together may fall flat if early buzz is any indication of its box office pull.
"What must have seemed like serendipity when Affleck and Lopez fell in love on the set of Gigli (search) must seem like a curse to the studio today," said a review in the New York Daily News. "Yes, it earned scads of publicity, but will fans want to see Ben being sexually frustrated by Jen's interest in other women?"
Harry Knowles, the man behind Ain't It Cool News (search), a Web site that thrives on scooping Hollywood, told the Boston Globe: "The reviews we got from the Gigli test screenings were abysmal at best."
Roger Friedman, Foxnews.com entertainment columnist, said the Columbia collaboration could be "the next Glitter, Showgirls and Ishtar wrapped in one."
Friedman predicted, "Once the reviews hit next week — with the inevitable 'Giggling Over Gigli' headlines — this goose should be cooked."
Lopez, starring as lesbian assassin Ricki, joins real-life fiancé Affleck, who plays hit man Larry Gigli. Affleck sports an Outsiders hair-do, tattoos and a mobster accent that would get him shot by Al Capone, personally.
After failing to switch a lesbian to his team in Chasing Amy, Affleck is giving it another try, but this time he succeeds and J-Lo becomes his on screen — and off.
So you may have trouble buying J-Lo — who rivals sexpot Carmen Electra (search) for lad mag cover girl queen — as a lesbian, or Affleck as a mobster, but surely their on-screen love scenes must be romantic? From the dialogue excerpted on Aintitcoolnews.com, their flirtation seems um, animalistic.
According to the site, Ricki develops a taste for men and is ready to get it on with Gigli. "It's time to baste the turkey," she says. "Huh?" he replies. "You heard me," she says. "Gobble gobble," he replies. "Gobble gobble," she confirms. Then the strange mating ritual is consummated.
In real life, Ben and Jen say neither one was expecting sparks to fly during their filming, though they hoped to create believable chemistry.
"I didn't really think about chemistry too much or go into any of that. I [thought] she was married and that was that," Affleck told Fox News.
But then again, Affleck wasn't ignorant of his co-star's sex appeal.
"I always thought she was attractive so I didn't think that I was going to have to work with somebody who I was supposed to be attracted to and think, ‘What a dog' or anything like that," Affleck said.
Lopez, however, was a bit more optimistic. "Luckily, when we started working together we could feel that there was energy and tension between us, and there was something there that was going to make the movie work so we were happy about that."
Lopez says that she hopes fans can get past all the gossip about the couple and the film and appreciate it for what it is.
"The public is much more kind of adept at cutting through the nonsense than people think," she said, swatting aside the naysayers. "This happens to be that curveball film with great writing and great characters about when someone comes into your life and you think it's one thing and then it changes you forever."
Of his character, Affleck said he enjoyed getting into Gigli, especially the comedy of him.
"It was fun to play this character because he is basically trying to be somebody he isn't … a tough guy … but he is really kind of a softy and he's afraid to acknowledge that she's right about all these things," Affleck said. "But the fun part is that he's endlessly humiliating himself, which was really fun to play."
If Affleck truly enjoys feigning humiliation, perhaps he'll be better prepared for the film's reception if the critics prove to be right.
Whatever their fate at the box office, Jen and Ben will likely continue to be fodder for gossip-hounds — at least for now. However, if the negative buzz around their other co-starring adventure, Jersey Girl (search), pans out, they may get the quiet they always say they're seeking.
Fox News' Mike Waco contributed to this report.