Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Affleck... No, not the stupid duck

(November 19, 2005)

I was watching The Maltese Falcon the other night when I noticed something—“Man, Ben Affleck reminds me a lot of Humphrey Bogart.”

Before anyone cries foul or throws a hissy fit, hear me out. Get on your computer, take your ass to http://www.google.com/ and do two image searches. The first search for Ben Affleck; the second search for Humphrey Bogart. The resemblance is eerie. They have the exact same smirk, similar voices and comparable mannerisms.

A spitting image of Affleck.

I know, it sounds downright asinine to say that Ben Affleck should, or even could, for that matter, have been the next Bogie. But hold on a sec...

Affleck's career started with a bang—Dazed and Confused, Mallrats, Good Will Hunting, Chasing Amy (my personal fav), Shakespeare in Love, and, hell, even Phantoms. Armageddon was a huge blockbuster. Dogma had its moments. Sure there was Glory Daze and a few other flops, but for the most part his filmography was impressive.

Very impressive.

Plus, damn near every woman in America had a crush on the guy. I'm sure that there were even quite a few man-crushes out there. And then something happened that derails even the brightest of acting careers. Affleck became a role whore, the crown prince of overexposure (Kevin Costner was the king at that point... and even though he is no longer overexposed, he still is a "no-talent ass clown").

Seriously, Affleck was addicted to bad flicks like crackheads get addicted to the pipe.

Here are a few of them—Forces of Nature, Reindeer Games, Bounce, Pearl Harbor (which was a bigger flop than Armageddon was a hit), The Sum of All Fears, Paycheck, Daredevil (his worse decision ever, well, professionally... he did meet his new Jennifer on that set), Gigli (possibly the biggest joke of a mainstream wide release ever produced), Surviving Christmas, and the piss-poor Kevin Smith pic (man, I never thought that I'd say that) Jersey Girl. Sure he had a memorable cameo in Boiler Room, and Changing Lanes was enjoyable, but those aberrations in performance became lost in Affleck's five-year cold streak (1999-2004).

To make matters worse, the prince of overexposure became involved with the queen of overexposure (at least until Paris happened)—one Jennifer Lopez.

Not only did Gluteus-to-the-Maximus, aka J-Lo—one of the least talented A-listers in the history of A-listers—bring Affleck bad luck, she brought him bad press as well. Pair that with serious drinking and gambling problems (reportedly) and a once-promising career had been successfully tanked. Affleck was so cold that he not only sidetracked his career, but also the career of Jennifer Garner, his new boo (Elektra made Catwoman look like Batman Begins... it was baaaaaaaaadddd). All this caused Affleck to take a much-needed sabbatical.

The Dream Team? Not exactly.

I know that a lot of cats despise this guy, but a lot of my favorite actors have had bad runs or dry spells. Johnny Depp? Sure. Sean Penn? No doubt. Bill Murray? Yep. Robert De Niro? Live and in living color. Eddie Murphy? Will it ever end? Hell, things are so rough for Sly Stallone that he’s doing another Rocky movie at age 59.

It’s a rough business. No doubt about that. Anyway, is Ben Affleck the best actor out there? No, at this point he is no Brando.

However, the guy has undeniable charisma and the ability to really takeover the screen, captivating audiences in the process. We saw it in Dazed and Confused. We saw it in Good Will Hunting. Most of all, we saw it in Chasing Amy. It’s been awhile since we saw that guy. Now that everyone has submitted to peer pressure and gone cold turkey on Affleck, I am rooting for the guy. I always have had a tendency to go against the grain and root for the underdog.

All I’m saying is that he has an uncanny amount of “it”, and is poised for a revival. Hell, if John Travolta can do it, who can’t? With a 2006 calendar year that includes a starring role in Truth, Justice, and the American Way (an upcoming film about the mysterious death of George Reeves, TV’s Superman) and a supporting role in the highly-anticipated Smokin’ Aces (a Las Vegas mob tale starring Ray Liotta, Ryan Reynolds, Andy Garcia and red-hot Entourage star Jeremy Piven), Affleck’s resurgence may start sooner than later. And it’s never too late, Affleck is only 33, still younger than Bogie in his prime.

As improbable as an Affleck comeback may sound, don’t bet against him. After all, things can't get any worse. At this point, Affleck's 2004 quote from Hardball with Chris Matthews might sum up his potential comeback best—"Well, David, I think I benefit from the same thing that helped George W. Bush in the (2000) debates, which is tremendously low expectations."

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