Ben Affleck is at it again.
The man simply can’t manage to turn that frown upside down.
Despite having a banner year of marrying the woman he loves and starring in a Dunkin campaign, he still looks like the brooding star of an Abilify commercial.
Last week, he walked the red carpet with wife Jennifer Lopez for her movie “The Mother,” and the pair engaged in what appeared to be a tense back-and-forth (a lip reader assured us that they were not in the throes of a domestic).
A day later, paparazzi video emerged of a seemingly agitated Affleck slamming the door of their car after Lopez climbed in.
Another day, another Affleck scowl. And how refreshing: a Hollywood A-lister who is over the Tinseltown air-kissing.
He’s grumpy, gesticulating like a man who has court-mandated anger management in his near future — and doesn’t seem to care that it’s telegraphed all over his face.
Affleck, who married Lopez in July, kicked off his latest misery tour in February at the Grammys, where he was seen flanking his A-list wife while looking completely bored.
When awards host Trevor Noah approached them to do an on-camera bit, Affleck backed out of the frame, which many interpreted as a sign of a spousal spat.
“I leaned into her and I was like, ‘As soon they start rolling, I’m going to slide away from you and leave you sitting next to Trevor,’” Affleck later told the Hollywood Reporter.
He said she then told him, “You better f – – king not leave.”
The awkward interaction sparked a gazillion memes and rumors that Bennifer, take deux, was on the rocks. He chalked it up to husband-and-wife banter.
The actor clearly loves Lopez, but he is reluctant to partake in the limelight she craves. And he’s not going to play along by putting on a deranged smile.
He already tried that back when they dated in the early aughts, when Affleck leaned into Lopez’s glitzy, designer-logo lifestyle. He slicked his hair, wore metrosexual togs and rubbed her rump on a yacht for her “Jenny From the Block” video.
He was mercilessly mocked for wearing that inauthentic, ill-fitting costume. Maybe that’s why it didn’t work out for them the first time.
At 50, he would rather suck down cigarettes and coffee in the wings than play her happy purse holder for the cameras.
This is not to say that melancholic Affleck is a recent phenomenon.
In 2016, his dismayed face in response to his “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” movie spawned the viral “sad Affleck” meme.
This is simply his default factory setting: the pained face of an injured NFL player being carted off the field.
And that’s cool. We beg our stars for authenticity. Then we jeer them if their version isn’t a mouthful of veneers and a cheery wave.
If Affleck was a woman, this scrutiny of his expressions would be considered high misogyny. It’s practically a jailable offense to tell a female to smile and be pleasant.
And what’s wrong with grouches anyway? We love the fictional kind. We let Oscar the Grouch essentially babysit our children. Walter Matthau made a career out of being one in films like, well, “Grumpy Old Men.” Scowling “Ted Lasso” character Roy Kent has growled his way into our hearts.
My own father, whom we jokingly dubbed “Dandy Andy,” was a grump who put his smile on layaway until his kids graduated from college.
The truth about most grouchy dudes is that they are ooey and gooey and soft in the middle once you drill through their tough exterior.
I can’t vouch for Affleck’s center. He is a complicated, flawed guy with well-documented addiction issues.
But I’ll take his curmudgeonly ways over a psycho hiding behind a charming smile.
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