X-Files fans might be disappointed

After 10 years, the second "X Files" film has been released with the delicious title, "I Want to Believe" (Rated PG-13). Wanting to believe was the premise of the television series, "The X Files," which began in 1993, and the first film, "The X Files: Fight the Future," which debuted in 1998. Over the years, the series, which grew ever more convoluted, and the much anticipated first big screen film have gained cultish status.

The zeitgeist of "The X-Files" is faith &

faith in the existence of extraterrestrial phenomena and, of course, in the inexplicable. Persuading the audience to believe that there is something beyond the evidence was the job of Chris Carter, the series creator and the writer-director of both films. To believe or not to believe was also the source of tension between Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), FBI agent, and his partner, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), both assigned by the Bureau to investigate paranormal cases. Mulder believed and Scully, a doctor whose life is predicated on the empirical, was the apostate.

As for "I Want to Believe," despite it's tempting title, the film abandons the search for E.T. and spins off in an unexpected direction. Mundane would be a bit harsh, but close. Its only attempt at anything resembling the paranormal arrives in the person of a pedophile priest, Father Joe, who claims to be psychic. The impetus for the narrative is the disappearance of an FBI agent. In other words, the investigation evolves into a police procedural, and the use of Father Joe in the hunt is an act of desperation by the agents. Of course, Mulder listens to Father Joe. Scully, true to form, is deeply skeptical of the priest's psychic abilities and finds his predator past despicable and disqualifying. While most are loathed to believe, an agent has gone missing and the game clock is ticking.

With 10 years to contemplate the next "X Files," with all the permutations that could have come into play regarding unexplained sightings and abductions, lights in the sky, almond-eyed visitors, clearly there should have been a more complex and interesting story to be found than your standard kidnapping with elements of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein embedded in the plot. Gruesome to be sure, but irrelevant to the spirit and promise of the series and the first film.

"The X Files" has countless fans who have been waiting ever so patiently for "I Want to Believe." They've kept the faith, and they will likely show up first day, center row. How they'll feel about what seems almost a betrayal of "The X Files" covenant, well, the opening weekend will tell.

Step Brothers

Good grief. Once again Judd Aptow and company, makers of "Knocked Up" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," have once again created a paean (the film is Rated R) to adolescent arrested development. Two hard-core slackers, Brennan and Dale, each 39, and each dug into their single parent's homes and lives, are suddenly forced to play nice together when their parents marry and create the blended family from hell.

Spoiled, self-centered, churlish, with no friends, no dates, no jobs, and no life, these two aging campers are not happy. What have they ever had to share? Emotionally they're pushing 13, newbie teens who have simply grown taller. Their views of women have been shaped by centerfold magazines. Their understanding of the world nonexistent. This far-fetched premise implodes during the last two acts. But then, you can only use the F word so often before it begins to have all the emotive impact of "what the heck." You can hear bathroom jokes only so many times and soon it all becomes banal and dumb and devoid of even a nudging grin. Being terrified of growing up as the basis for a comedy has a shelf life of about five minutes and then it becomes tedious. Very tedious.

The question is why any Hollywood studio would make this movie. After all, the demographic that might find groaning humor in this film can't easily get into to see it given its R rating. The question these filmmakers have to ask themselves is how long can they ride this one trick pony? How much mileage can they wring from stale slacker jokes and over the top, slapstick scenes. Example: Brennan, having a tantrum, rubs his scrotum (tight shot of same) all over Dale's much treasured drum set which causes a lame fight ending up with Brennan burying Dale alive in the backyard. Honest. Is this great moviemaking or what?

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