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Movies Made So The Stars Could Do It! The Ben Affleck Film Festival

September 23, 2010

As you should know by now, a “Movie Made So The Stars Can Do It” is simply an opportunity for the principals of a feature length theatrical film of questionable quality to meet, “Do It” (which may or may not result in a marriage and/or family but will at least keep THEM entertained for awhile) and move to the next project. There are several stars that have multiple entries in this collection, but one of the most enduring of actors that has the distinction of appearing in a “SCDI” picture is the director of the current box office smash hit, “The Town,” Ben Affleck.

Now, I list three Affleck movies here, for your consideration.

The first is 1999’s “Forces of Nature” which paired our intrepid Affleck with Sandra Bullock, who readers will remember was one of the stars of “The Thing Called Love” which was noted for its “SCDI” romance of Samantha Mathis and River Phoenix, six years prior. Here, Bullock played a wide open and free-spirited passenger in the seat next to Affleck’s aviatophobic writer. When the plane must make an emergency landing after takeoff, Bullock and Affleck must make other arrangements to get to Savannah, GA… he for his wedding (bride played by Maura Tierney), she for a business deal, and with no rental cars to hire, they both share a lift from a random guy and that’s where the bizarre elements really begin, as it seems that everything is dead set on both keeping Affleck from making it to his wedding and permitting Bullock to have every chance to be cute, amusing, and most importantly, engaging!

The plot of the movie is absolutely out of a cartoon, as even Steve Martin didn’t have this much trouble traveling with John Candy in 1987’s “Planes, Trains and Automobiles!” And there are a ton of head-scratching, shoulder-shrugging, straight outta left-field events that even the hardest hardcore romantic comedy lover would have a next to impossible time buying into, and that’s why this film was a fail.

Now, admittedly, the romance with Affleck and Bullock was very low-key and mostly kept out of the press, however there were certainly plenty of rumors about the two of them being a couple, appearing together on the Press Junket for the film (two stars doing Junket work together is extremely rare), and seemingly enjoying their off screen time as they worked publicity as much as they seemed to be having shooting the film.  And, as I previously stated, even a rumor of a romance qualifies the film for the “SCDI” distinction! So, we’re off to a flying start.

Next, we have 2003’s “Gigli.” This time Affleck was paired with that new “American Idol” judge, Jennifer Lopez (whom he met prior to the production of this film, but also remember that if the serious qualities of a romance hit at the time, that also qualifies it as a “Movie Made So The Stars Could Do It!”) and the result was one of the worst reviewed films, one of the biggest box office flops and one of the strangest love relationships in American Cinema! Let’s take this step by step.

The film itself is the story of two cleaners: Affleck in the title role, and a lesbian who also is allegedly just as dangerous, played by Lopez. The audience must take it on faith that she is as frightening as all that because there is never a moment where she comes across as anything but Jennifer Lopez. They meet when they discover they’ve been hired to do the same job: grab a mentally deficient dood and attempt to extort a federal prosecutor into dropping the charges against the very bad man played by Al Pacino. But along the way, they connect! Also included is Christopher Walken as a cop on the case, and he does go Walken through his dialog a couple of times here.

Personally, I will go to bat for this film, if only just a little. It’s probably not as bad as you think it is. In fact, it can’t be as bad as that! I know I have seen worse movies. That doesn’t mean this film doesn’t stink, or makes you question where the millions of bucks for the budget went, or doesn’t have plot holes you could drive Ms. Lopez’s famed hind quarters through, but it’s not “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” Still, if you lived and died without seeing “Gigli,” I don’t think you will have missed much.

Conversely, the spectacle of the “Bennifer” romance was most certainly worth watching! It featured a whole host of appearances of the two at various functions, award ceremonies and the like, as well as Affleck appearing in Lopez’s video for her song “Jenny From The Block,” from her nearly prophetically titled album “This Is Me… Then.” The video features him literally tapping that ass. It culminated with the couple breaking up shortly before they were headed to the altar, and as their next flop movie, 2004’s “Jersey Girl,” was about to hit theaters, where director Kevin Smith hastily re-cut the film, editing out a substantial portion of Lopez’s part. Nope, no booty joke that time.

For all of the hoopla and circus-like atmosphere that surrounded Affleck and Lopez, I just wonder if everything boiled back down to the fact that Ben grew up a Boston Red Sox fan and Jennifer was a die-hard New York Yankees fan? Maybe not, but it definitely couldn’t have helped their relationship!

Last but most importantly was Affleck’s appearance in 2003’s “Daredevil,” which paired him with Jennifer Garner in a tale based on the Marvel Comics graphic novel series by Marc Steven Johnson. Obviously, things weren’t going so well with that other Jennifer at the time, and Affleck discovered that this new Jennifer was pretty interesting. She was battle ready, having spent the previous few years on the JJ Abrams adventure series “Alias,” and played Elektra to Affleck’s title anti-hero here.

The concept of a not so heroic hero was certainly nothing new. “The Green Hornet,” Paladin from “Have Gun Will Travel” and even “The Lone Ranger” are all characters that have questionable pasts and sometimes personal and possibly selfish motivations for what they did, and they all predate Daredevil by decades. But as unoriginal as this element of the concept was, Affleck managed to bring nothing fresh to it! For a “superhero” type performance, maybe he blew his load with Bruce Willis in “Armageddon” and just had no second gear. Or perhaps the budding and clandestine romance with his co-star drained whatever creative juices he might have otherwise had. Whatever the reason, the resulting film managed to both fail as an adaptation for the fans of the comic, and as a story on its own merits. However, the resulting romance of Affleck and Garner finally yielded a marriage and family, and a spouse content to attend games at Fenway Park.

“Movies Made So The Stars Could Do It!” salutes Ben Affleck for his determination and eventual triumph over his previous adversity. He is proof that sometimes the stars can do it over, and over, and over again!

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33 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2010 7:13 pm

    “Movies Made So The Stars Could Do It!” salutes Ben Affleck for his determination and eventual triumph over his previous adversity. He is proof that sometimes the stars can do it over, and over, and over again!

    Wow, thank you for this entry. I loved taking a trip down Affleck’s romantic history. It seems his best romantic success came from one of his biggest failures. He also seems to really like brunettes named Jennifer.

  2. Citizen Taqueau permalink
    September 23, 2010 7:33 pm

    Hilarious post! Also, Ben Affleck is kind of a terrible actor. And only sort of cute, as movie stars go! So what the hell?

  3. September 23, 2010 9:03 pm

    @Citizen Taqueau, oddly Affleck has turned into quite a director/writer. Perhaps his strengths have not always been best utilized.

  4. September 23, 2010 9:28 pm

    Ben Affleck (who my mother called “Ben Aflac” until her dying day.. she also pronounced Keanu as “Canoe”…but I digress) and Jennifer Garner make me uncomfortable. I don’t know why… maybe it’s their face shapes or something, but they kinda creep me out.

    Whenever I think of the first “Bennifer” I think of South Park. And I laugh. Mightily.

    I feel like Ben used his film career as a Hollywood match.com.

  5. September 23, 2010 9:33 pm

    Before I read this, I just want to say, “Ewwwwwwwww!” about the picture. That is all.

  6. evmaroon permalink
    September 23, 2010 10:06 pm

    I can’t believe you left out the romance between Ben Affleck and South Park’s Cartman’s left hand. Okay, I’m mostly kidding.

    Which one was Bennifer? Him and Lopez, right? Good to see they’ve both swung their fortunes back to the positive after Gigli…since it was supposed to kill their careers, right?

    Great post! I love this series!

  7. Citizen Taqueau permalink
    September 24, 2010 1:01 am

    Snarky’s Machine, OK! I will have to check out what he’s done in that regard.

  8. September 24, 2010 2:20 am

    @Snarky I was trying to find a way to tie in Matt Damon, but those guys knew each other since they were ten, so it was a no go! Not sure just what the real story behind their Oscar winning screenplay for “Good Will Hunting” is (or why they haven’t written anything since), but I think Affleck is pretty well suited to be a director. He may not execute (as an actor) that well, but he knows and understands what is needed from actors, and that’s the crucial part.

  9. September 24, 2010 2:25 am

    @ Taqueau there are certain actors that just seem to have a kind of guardian angel watching out for them, and Affleck seems to be one of those. Or maybe it’s a great agent? Personally I still think his best performance and most believable role was O’Bannion in “Dazed and Confused,” though his wooden quality in the portrayal of George Reeves in “Hollywoodland” served him quite handily.

  10. September 24, 2010 2:32 am

    @eieioj hollywood match dot com is exactly the point of this series! Personally I don’t care who dates who, as long as the work turns out ok. But, as you can see, most of the time it does not!

    As for Ms. Garner and Mr. Affleck, they do have fairly large cranial regions, with Jennifer having a pretty big chin and Ben having just a huge noggin generally. Not sure what this will mean for Violet, Seraphina and the next one… but if Bruce Willis and Demi Moore are any indication…

  11. September 24, 2010 2:34 am

    @poplife which picture… “Forces of Nature,” “Gigli” or “Daredevil?” 🙂 You probably meant the solo shot of Ben at the top of the piece. Yeah, well, I had to find something where he appeared he could have been sexy. It was the best I could do.

  12. September 24, 2010 2:40 am

    @evmaroon the interesting thing about these “SCDI” movies is that they never really “kill” someone’s career, as bad as they are and as rampant as they are! But see, if we start bringing in television shows to the category, that would expand the universe in a complex way. Just as the briefest of examples, Jennifer Garner met her first husband, Scott Foley on the set of “Felicity.” And a great many TV programs produced similar stories… like South Park!

    Believe me, there’s plenty of material just on the motion picture side!

  13. September 24, 2010 4:52 am

    @evmaroon the interesting thing about these “SCDI” movies is that they never really “kill” someone’s career, as bad as they are and as rampant as they are!

    Sly and Brigitte Nelson – Rocky IV and Cobra – are examples of this. Though, let’s face it, if any actor is to face the fall out from “SCDI” most likely it will be the female actor.

  14. September 24, 2010 8:10 am

    I think I prefer “Aflac” on the other side of the camera… I don’t mind him in Kevin Smith films, where he generally seems well-cast as a bit of a doofus. I think it’s the framing of him as a dashing leading man that irks me.

  15. September 24, 2010 8:11 am

    His finger nails are like Leo DiCaprio’s; always bitten to the quick and dirty.

  16. September 24, 2010 11:21 am

    @Snarky you only get 1 “MMSTSCDI” film per actor pairing… their first time together, so that proves that the first Sly/Brigitte pairing didn’t kill their careers, because they made a second!

  17. September 24, 2010 12:38 pm

    @redlami Ben has been acting since he was a kid, with that “Voyage of the Mimi” show, from PBS. With that much experience in front of the camera, I would hope some of it rubbed off on him knowing what works, so he might be a director that actors enjoy working with and has a good sense of what the audience likes. Drew Barrymore also seems to be doing similar stuff with her directorial career. Maybe we’ll be seeing them both winning Best Director Oscars somewhere down the line…

  18. September 24, 2010 1:07 pm

    Ha! It was the picture you chose for the post. But I understand… it fits!

    Oof, Daredevil really was awful. I caught it the other day and I tried, I really did, to make it all the way through. But Ben’s 2-D portrayal of what is truly an interesting character with some dualities to deal with was just plain boring.

  19. September 24, 2010 1:30 pm

    Somehow Drew doesn’t annoy me the way Ben does.

  20. September 24, 2010 2:38 pm

    Damn, NYCPenpusher, I never realized how much Ben Affleck has used movie-making as a matchmaking strategy!

    And I don’t know, Gigli is pretty damn bad. And I really like Jennifer Lopez! Because it’s not a fun hot mess, it’s more boring bad. And borderline offensive in how bad she is at playing a lesbian.

  21. September 24, 2010 3:47 pm

    @Snarky Well, Drew is likable in a lot of ways that Ben is not! I’m not really certain I have a handle on what Ben is all about as I do Drew. Ben just comes off as not fully realized to me at times. Maybe this is because some believe him to be closeted gay? I’m not certain. But Drew always seems like sunshine and a breath of fresh air, and you definitely don’t get that feeling from Affleck!

  22. September 24, 2010 3:50 pm

    @raymondj I didn’t say “Gigli” wasn’t bad! Just not as bad as everyone ranks it. Is it the worst movie ever made? No. Would I advise anyone to watch it? Absolutely not. But it is pretty tedious. They could have cut it down to about an hour and it might have played just as well as the “Hawaii Five-O” pilot!

  23. petitpoussin permalink
    September 24, 2010 4:53 pm

    What about Ben and Gwyneth, circa “Bounce”?

  24. September 24, 2010 5:10 pm

    @petitpoussin: Gwyneth and Ben began their romance in 1998, a full two years before 2000’s “Bounce,” and that’s a bit too much time between the public awareness of the relationship and the release of the film… But that definitely helps explain why the Ben and Sandy Bullock (likely) relationship from “Forces of Nature” was kept very low key!

  25. September 24, 2010 5:12 pm

    @redlami: I’m still LOLing at “Aflac”.

  26. September 24, 2010 6:11 pm

    Damn, Ben Affleck is hot in that pic! Is that old?

    I always wondered what he saw in J.Lo. And I love the South Park episode y’all are talking about. LOL. It was vaguely racist, though.

    This is a good post! I now know more about Ben Affleck’s career than I ever wanted to.

  27. September 24, 2010 6:53 pm

    @Tasha I think the pic is circa 2004 Vanity Fair? So I guess not that recent.

    It seemed that Affleck was interested in meeting Lopez and I think placed an ad in either Variety or Hollywood Reporter praising her which was his first move! But I’m sure he saw in JLo what most guys do…

  28. September 24, 2010 8:48 pm

    Damn, I would have bet it’s even older than that.

  29. September 24, 2010 9:33 pm

    Damn, Ben Affleck is hot in that pic! Is that old?

    LOL.

    I know too much about Ben because one of my paying assignments was to dig up credible sources that he wears a hair piece. It’s been rumored – who has time for rumoring about Ben’s hair – but not substantiated. I didn’t find any evidence for it, but I learned a lot about his hopes and dreams.

  30. September 25, 2010 8:09 pm

    Is he wearing pleated pants in that pic?

  31. September 25, 2010 9:56 pm

    Oh snap, Snarky…them’s some serious pleats!

    South Park’s had way too much fun with Ben. There was also the Buttface episode.

  32. September 26, 2010 12:03 am

    I saw “Bounce” in the theaters. All I remember was Gwyneth taking up smoking again because she was trying to break her addiction to the nicotine gum she was chewing to break her addiction to cigarettes. I don’t recall what the actual plot of the movie involved.

    @eieioj – agreed. Major pleats. No wonder the picture seemed old.

  33. HSofia permalink
    September 26, 2010 7:11 pm

    Interesting. Did he ever date anyone who wasn’t an actress? I remember his famed romance with Gwyneth Paltrow – didn’t they meet during Shakespeare in Love? I remember when he and Matt Damon first blew up with that movie about the janitor/math guy at Harvard … I SO preferred Affleck because he was funny in interviews and seemed lively and engaging. Damon seemed almost painfully serious. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed Affleck’s interviews more because he started getting all the big movie roles. But fast forward ten or some odd years and Damon has arguably become the bigger star. Maybe Affleck really should just stay behind the camera. Gone Baby Gone was superbly done, and I still get an ache in my heart whenever I think of it.

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