You should be able to do basic features like skip ahead, etc. from the HU. The F150 i had was similar, you had to reach your arm backwards to get the remote to work. They don't put the sensors up front because why spend the money if the option is not installed. This way the system is self contained so to speak.
Yeah, I know. The problem I had was those darn DVD's with all the stupid trailers. Unless you hit the menu button, you have to sit through all of them. I just rip the movie to my comp and take out all the b.s. and then burn them.