So I’m sitting there in the dark with my little reporter notebook, diligently taking notes and formulating theses to support my contention that The Pacifier fails as a film, and I think it was during a burst of abject whimpering from the very famous critic sitting next to me, whom I guarantee you’ve seen on TV, that I suddenly and finally realized the futility of life, the ubiquitousness of pain, and the infinite emptiness of the universe that we puny humans on our puny planet in our puny corner of the cosmos cannot hope to ameliorate.
Why was I bothering? Have I been cursed by the gods, like Sisyphus, eternally tasked with a chore so demeaning, so pointless, so forever undone? Is that what brought me, in all seriousness, to a low during which I was actually calculating the precise moment in which a movie about Vin Diesel changing poopy diapers crossed the line into categorical awfulness? Had I not just done the very same thing a week earlier, as regards a movie featuring Tommy Lee Jones buying tampons?
It’s like I have blinders on that prevent me from recognizing that movies about — in the larger metaphoric sense — Vin Diesel being laid low by the forced changing of poopy diapers, the coerced riding of a little girl’s pink bicycle complete with pink streamers on the handlebars, and the “by now tortured and beaten into such groveling humiliation that he actually likes it” directing of a stage production of The Sound of Music (and oh, how I wish I could say that I was making that last one up, but alas, I am not) are not simply examples of the dictum that at least 90 percent of the people in Hollywood have no shame, or that 90 percent of the public worldwide will watch anything flickering on a screen especially if it features flying human excrement. They are also, in a very real sense, trials, tests of character… one I continually fail. Some people think Sisyphus is a tragic hero. I snort derisively and jump to the instant conclusion that he’s an idiot, without even realizing I’m laughing at myself.
Yet, I’m drawn, caught in my own little moth/flame dynamic — I can’t help myself. Like a scab I have to pick at or a loose tooth I have to tongue even though mom scolds me for it, I must ask: What possessed Vin Diesel (The Chronicles of Riddick, A Man Apart)? Was he actually trying to force his career to jump the shark? Did he read the script before signing the contract? Did someone he pays to work his behalf actually say, “Look what Kindergarten Cop did for Schwarzenegger?” Did that person actually read the script? Did screenwriters Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant (who as a team contributed to Taxi, and apparently don’t even care that people can easily learn that fact) really think sending a Navy SEAL to protect the whiny brats of a dead CIA scientist is a either good use of government resources or a good source of comedic capital? Did director Adam Shankman (Bringing Down the House, A Walk to Remember) not realize that because there’s a scene in the film in which Diesel must descend into a sewer from which he emerges covered in human muck, that would inevitably lead to snarky snipes like “Vin Diesel dives into shit, oh, and there’s also a scene in which he has to swim through a sewer”?
And then I get on a roll, and it’s even more pathetic, how tragically unheroic and idiotic I am: Does the world really need a kids’ movie that opens with a helicopter explosion? Was Diesel actually doped up during those scenes in which he has to sing lullabies and do, ahem, the “Panda Dance” to make one of the whiny brats go to sleep, or does he merely look doped up? (I can’t say that I’d blame him for needing some sedation to get through this movie — I imagine he doesn’t want to hear himself making baby talk any more than we do.) Just how many different ways can baby shit be used to humiliate even someone with clearly so low an opinion of himself as Vin Diesel? Why o why do some Hollywood-movie types see the potential for hilarity in a small child kicking an adult man in the crotch?
Finally, I realize that I’m repeating myself, that I’ve said this all before, that that rock ain’t staying up that hill, and I’ll be compelled to do this all again in another couple weeks, and I break down in tears of mortification and hope, at least, that it’ll never be The Rock I must lift this kind of rock for. And I go and watch one of those ancient Disney movies like Bedknobs and Broomsticks or one of the ones with the cute little cars that are almost alive. You know, back when Disney made realistic movies that everyone could relate to.