Posted: 19 Nov 2004
Love him or hate him, you most likely have a determined opinion of Ben Affleck, poster boy of Red Sox celebrity sightings. You may think he sold out with roles in Gigli or Paycheck, or you may think he was the bomb in Phantoms. Here's my two cents, though, on his five most underrated movies.
Boiler Room (2000)
It might just be that I constantly forget he was in this movie, what with the decent performances turned in by Vin Diesel and Giovanni Ribisi, but either way, this movie doesn't get the attention it deserves. It took me by surprise when I finally got around to watching it, I can say that much. I wasn't expecting much, but what I got was a tense and, at times, disturbing look at broker chop shops -- both the guys who work in them and the guys they're taking for a ride. If you haven't seen it yet, give it a rental.
Forces of Nature (1999)
Oh, shut the fuck up already. I know it's a chick flick. For what it's worth, though, Sandra Bullock is one of my preferred actresses and this is a good vehicle for her. Affleck's role isn't much but to help her...uh...discover herself, and other heartfelt crap, but yeah. Touching movie, funny at times, cute at times. One thing -- if your date catches you crying at the end (with a little help from Sarah McLachlan), you've either vastly increased or vastly decreased or chances of getting laid that night. Be forewarned.
Say what you will. When this and Deep Impact came out at the same time, I sided with Deep Impact. I didn't even think about seeing Armageddon until after it'd hit video in 1999, when Tyler and Philippe brought it home to the Backwater one evening. I watched it with them for lack of anything else to do, and found that this is one of the better action/disaster movies ever made. The dynamic between Affleck, Bruce Willis, and Liv Tyler was pretty well-played, and the supporting cast was fantastic. How can you go wrong with Steve Buscemi with space madness? Or Ving Rhames singing bass?
Glory Daze (1996)
Odds are you've never even heard of this movie. I stumbled across it in a video store in 2000 or so and picked it up just for the cast. Affleck, Alyssa Milano, French Stewart, Jonathan Rhys-Davies. You can't miss. It was the perfect time, too, as the plot came to mirror the recent dissolving of the aforementioned Backwater. Essentially, it's a tale of four guys at the ends of their college "careers," finding adulthood (and their growing apart) approaching a little more quickly than they'd like. It sounds as thought I've painted it as a sob story or coming-of-age deal, but it's really not. It's a rockin' little flick. It's funny, and you'll most likely find some of yourself in at least one of the characters (if not all of them, as I did).
Chasing Amy (1997)
Not sure what needs to be said about this one, if anything. If you're a Kevin Smith fan, you may very well be able to recite large chunks of the dialogue, both sober and drunk. I might get some arguments on this one from you folks, about it not being underrated and all. If you're not a Smith fan, however, you may have completely missed the boat on this one. And believe it or not, there are people in this world who have no idea who Kevin Smith is. I'll tell you one thing, though; this here movie is required viewing for anyone between 14 and 40. Over that range and you probably won't get it, but you might get a kick out of it anyway. Under that range, well, you shouldn't be watching Kevin Smith movies quite yet. While the most mature film of the Jersey Trilogy, it's not without gags and, of course, Jay and Silent Bob.
Which brings me to the honorable mention...
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
Affleck's ability to willingly lampoon Hollywood, himself, his prior failures (Phantoms), Good Will Hunting (including an appearance from the multi-talented Scott William Winters, "the bully," in the bar that looked an awful lot like Cambridge's Thirsty Scholar), and more deserve an honorable mention here. Most notably for the line "No, but it's Miramax, so I'm sure it'll be Ben Affleck and Matt Damon." And, of course, let's not forget the scene on the set of Good Will Hunting 2 between Affleck and Damon, which in the space of about ten seconds somehow pokes fun at Good Will Hunting, Bounce, Dogma, The Talented Mr. Ripley, All the Pretty Horses, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Forces of Nature, Reindeer Games, and, of course, this very movie.