Nothing will ever come between Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Not Bennifer, not Gigli, not a Best Supporting Actor nomination, not competing as to which of their films had better Morgan Freeman performances. At least, that's the story we can write here and now that they've decided to reenact 1997. If you don't think it gets cozier than a first look deal, than how about the fact they're reportedly planning to play baseball together and swap screen wives?
With The Trade in mind, I thought I'd help them out and write up five friendly movie pitches they could take on. We don't want them to really resort to making Dogma 2: Angels Strike Back or Good Will Hunting 2. But there's no reason why they can't be this generation's Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and just keep playing the bromance game in a variety of different settings. There's plenty of famous friends that are begging to bring their arcs to the big screen, and if there's one thing an onscreen relationship needs, it's the offscreen chemistry that can only come from winning Oscars and making Kevin Smith cameos together.
Because I like the idea of these two in costume, I've chosen to stick to historical friendships. Hopefully, Cinematical readers can pitch in with a few fictional ones just to keep things interesting.
1. Merriwether Lewis and William Clark
Like Affleck and Damon before Good Will Hunting, Lewis and Clark were friends long before their famous expedition, and that they managed to stay so after such a grueling experience speaks to how well they got along. (I can't even stay friends with people after sharing a hotel room with them.) Lewis was moody and introspective, Clark was outgoing, and they were perfect co-captains. While the results of their exploration live on to this day, their friendship was cut short by Lewis' mysterious death. Interestingly, while Lewis' family swore he'd been murdered, Clark accepted the official explanation of suicide. Did he know his friend better than his family did? ( I jest by including it as an Affleck / Damon collaboration, but the Corps of Discovery and the friendship that carried it would make a great film.)
2. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson
You don't have to venture out of the 18th century to find another legendary friendship. They were fast friends in the heady days of the American Revolution, and Adams once declared to Jefferson that (in the parlance and spelling of the times) "intimate Correspondence with you . . . is one of the most agreable Events in my Life." They fell out, but reconciled for the new century, and eerily died within hours of each other. Affleck and Damon might have to wait another five or ten years before they can match everyone's elderly image of our founding fathers, but it's material worth waiting for, right?
3. Ben & Jerry
Some friendships result in the Constitution of the United States. Others result in Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia. Get Aaron Sorkin on the script, and I'm convinced one little ice cream company would be the most compelling film of that year. Especially if they dejectedly walk away from the screen after being bought by Unilever. That'd be great.
4. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway
Can't you see it? The awkward first meeting in Dingo, Fitzgerald obsessively and enthusiastically championing his new friend, Hemingway declaring Zelda Fitzgerald insane, their friendship fracturing as Hemingway rose and Fitzgerald fell, and the latter dying a broken failure. I'd like to think there'd be a lot of shouting matches and shattered glasses. Neither Affleck nor Damon resemble either author in the slightest, but when has that ever stopped Hollywood?
5. Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon
I'm not sure if Mason and Dixon were actually friends in real life. But Thomas Pynchon imagined them to be, and that's good enough for me. I'm pretty sure Mason & Dixon is an impossible thing to adapt, but maybe someone could just use the Mark Knopfler song Sailing to Philadelphia as the starting point and cliff notes. Throw in some of the comedy (especially the L.E.D.) and bodice ripping from Pynchon, and it could be like a geographical delight. The only problem might be the accents ...