[NB: There are no spoilers in this post!]
I found myself in a terrible dilemma on Wednesday night.
At 6pm I was standing in a scorching hot Leicester Square, about to meet my friend Matt to attend the press screening of a film called Tropic Thunder, and I had to decide whether to join him… or whether to stand exactly where I was and watch David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson arrive for the UK premiere of The X-Files: I Want To Believe.
In 1994 there would have been no question. I was as committed an X-Files fan as the world had ever seen, eating, sleeping, drinking, breathing Agents Mulder and Scully because I’d never known anything like their spooky-freaky-thinky show. Back then, I was an avid collector of the X-Files trading cards, comics, videos, books, keyrings and magazines (including SFX, long before I ever knew anybody there or was even thinking about becoming a journalist). I watched the show and I loved the show and it took me a long time to admit that it was getting worse with every year that passed, until it eventually breathed its last in 2002 and I found that I barely even cared any more.
I ended up working for the magazine that once put David Duchovny’s face on its cover and made me squeak with joy in the middle of a supermarket when I saw it. Somehow I even ended up in the end credits of a programme the BBC made about The X-Files, listed as “Creative Consultant” or something similar (I don’t even have a copy of it now to check). I bought the DVD box sets up to season seven, rewatched them all last year and fell back in love before realising I couldn’t bring myself to watch season eight and lose the glow again.
So I went to see The X-Files: I Want To Believe on Monday night feeling a little trepidatious, knowing that I once loved those two iconic FBI Agents but our relationship had soured. Could this new movie be the thing to make me believe again? Could it rise to the heights of “Squeeze” or “Clyde Bruckman’s ‘Final Repose'” or “Anasazi”? Could it rekindle in me a burning passion for all things Mulder and Scully?
Could it hell. What a pile of pants. After half an hour I suddenly realised, to my horror (the only horror anywhere to be found around that film, by the way, as it’s as scary as a kitten sniffing a geranium), that I was bored. As time wore on, as eons passed and galaxies formed and died and still nothing much was happening on screen, I realised that the movie was actually embarrassing: a cut-price (boy, does it look cheap) X-Files episode in which Mulder and Scully spend far too much time talking about their relationship and not enough time is spent with the villain of the piece – who was, quite frankly, a big fat nothing. Even the inclusion of one of my favourite actors in the world (Callum Keith Rennie), a few amusing one-liners and a scene at the end involving someone cradling Mulder (no spoilers here!) couldn’t prevent me from breathing a huge sigh of relief when the credits rolled.
And this is why I was faced with such a terrible choice as I stood in the bright sunlight of Leicester Square, staring at the red carpet and all the fans and X-Files posters as I tried to decide whether to stay or whether to meet up with Matt and see Tropic Thunder.
If I hadn’t watched the new movie the night before, I would still have had some respect for creator Chris Carter. I wouldn’t have been cringing at the very thought of The X-Files: I Want To Believe and its uninteresting plot and feeble premise. I’d have stood by the barrier and yelled with all my might as David Duchovny had walked past me, grinning like a maniac at the thought of sharing the same air as Spooky Mulder. I wouldn’t have had to make a choice at all. In the end, however, I did.
Tropic Thunder is really funny. Go see it when it opens.