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November 7, 2008 | Comments ()


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The (Beer) Goggles, They Do Nothing!

One Lush's Night with Vin Diesel and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson / Meaux

Boozehound Cinephile | November 7, 2008 | Comments ()


(Publisher’s Note: The Boozehound is out this week, and with all due respect to the Boozehound King, we just happen to have some delicious Paheeba Day leftovers to fill the spot)

Pop Culture Items Consumed: Okay, time for a confession: I may be the only female in the Pajibaverse who is completely immune to the charms of not one but two of Hollywood’s leading macho men. The widespread appeal of both Vin Deisel and The Rock completely mystifies me.

To be fair, though, action movies just don’t tend to appeal to me. I’m a comedy gal. When Mr. Meaux decides to watch something with lots of kabooms and kapows in it, I’ll pick up a book or start doing a crossword puzzle — perhaps half-watching the film, but never giving it much attention or thought. I’ve come to realize that these two gentlemen have never had a chance with me: I’ve never watched them closely enough to see if there’s any charisma, leading-man qualities, or a certain je ne sais quoi that I’m missing. Hell, to be perfectly honest, I can’t even remember which one is which half of the time (The Rock is the one who used to be in the WWF, right? What do you mean, “it’s called the WWE now”? Ah, forget it—who can keep that crap straight, anyway?!)

In an effort to try and see what I’ve supposedly been missing out on for all this time, I decided that a double feature was in order. Maybe, just maybe, really watching these men in action might help me to understand what it is about them that elevates them above mere “generic action movie lunkhead” status. To give me a taste of both of these (allegedly quite fabulous) male specimens, I settled on a showing of one of each of their biggest hits: XXX and The Scorpion King.

Beverages Consumed: It’s not that I don’t know what these men look like. In fact, I do. I know all too well, and for that reason, I also know I’m going to need some refreshments to make this evening a tad more palatable.

In honour of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, I thought it would be appropriate to partake in a little concoction I invented a while back called the Cemint. Get it? Rock? Cement? Oh, screw it. Like I need an excuse to drink Cemint.

So named for its minty goodness and admittedly unappetizing colouration, the Cemint comprises a shot of Crème de Menthe (the green stuff, not the clear) and a shot of Crème de Cacao in a short glass, topped up with (stay with me here, people) vanilla soy milk. Sounds a little hippie-ish, but mmm, it’s so tasty…and theoretically, if one uses liqueurs that are made with one’s husband’s homemade spirits rather than the store-bought kind, they are pretty punchy too. Your local brew shop will stock a selection of liqueur essences that can be used to turn a neutral spirit (like, say, store-bought vodka, or … not) into pretty well any exotic liqueur you can imagine.

As for the vanilla soy milk, feel free to substitute plain old moo juice and a dash of vanilla extract. Just don’t expect me to respect you in the morning.

To keep the playing field level, I decided that I really ought to have a drink for Vin Deisel as well. Upon consultation with Mr. Meaux, it was decided that Diesel Fuel should consist of rum (dark, of course) and cola for that diesel-like colour, with a shot of peach schnapps in honour of Vin’s shaven and presumably peach-fuzzy head. Looking forward to trying this one out.

Summary of Action: Kicking off the evening, Mr. Meaux asks which movie I want to start with. I consult my palate … mmm, Cemint sure would hit the spot right now. Yep, we’re starting with The Scorpion King.

Oookay, so in the opening caper, Mathayus (The Rock) rescues his brother from the evil Memnon. He and his brother are supposedly the last of the Acadian warriors. Huh, who knew there were Atlantic Canadian francophones in ancient Egypt? (Oh, according to Wikipedia, he’s “Akkadian.” I see.) Mathayus is apparently terrifying: walking into a room of burly men and softly saying “Boo” causes them to run away screaming. Oh, good grief. Maybe it’s the hair. Lord, but the hair is awful…Sarina wasn’t kidding when she warned me about that.

Anyway, the fearsome Mathayus’s ride of choice is not a horse but a camel. He claims it’s because, while horses are faster, camels are smarter. More on the relationship between the man and his mount later.

Ah, we are introduced to a new character: a horse thief named Arpid, who is vaguely reminiscent of an effete and accented Pauly Shore. “Hmm,” I think to myself. “I wonder if he’ll become Mathayus’s laughably effeminate comedic foil?” Minutes later, Mathayus’s brother gets offed by the bad guys. Well, well — looky who needs a new sidekick all of a sudden. Oh, awesome — Arpid just made jokes about Sodom and buttocks. Hilarity!

I’ve learned quite a lot about females of ancient Egypt so far. Apparently, the whores of ancient Gomorrah all had big ol’ fake tits. Who knew? Oh, and the women of the king’s harem were very lonely and horny creatures. Any man fortunate enough to be catapulted into their midst by a doddering old inventor with a trebuchet would be swarmed like Macaulay Culkin’s character in My Girl (only, you know, by girls instead of bees). Also: when sorceresses lose their virginity, they totally lose their magic seeing powers and can’t serve the king anymore. This is important, ladies — you must remain pure, or else you’re no longer any good to the men in your life.

Plot-wise, well, there’s plenty of action. Mercifully, it’s a little blurred around the edges by the effects of alcohol and indifference. A few of the highlights included fire ants, some light sexual tension between Mathayus and his camel (I came to think of her as Miss Moneypenny with bigger humps), belly-dancing fly girls in gold lamé, and Michael Clark Duncan in drag. In a dramatic turn of events late in the film, The Rock was shot with a scorpion venom-tipped arrow. Never fear, though; the Sorceress gave him some highly effective form of mouth-to-mouth (but not before uttering the line, “If he does live, the blood of the scorpion will course through his veins.” Yeesh.). My notes got a little sketchy as the night wore on, but at some point, one character said “I’ve come for the woman — and your head.” There were a few deep and meaningful exchanges between Mathayus and friends that went something like:

Warrior A: “Live free.”

Warrior B: “Die well.”

Ooh, now that’s macho.

Out of the blue, my husband turned to me and informed me that he considers himself a “boozehound sin-o-phile.” Damned if it wasn’t the best line I’d heard in well over an hour.

Moving on to Diesel Fuel and the next cinematic masterpiece, XXX begins at a Russian rave. Some Eurotrash type gets shot onstage, and is bodysurfed away by the unsuspecting crowd. Yup, hilarious. Back in the good old US of A, two agents are looking at a line drawing on a computer screen. “Do you know what this is?” asks the first guy. Guy 2 answers gravely, “That’s a fragment of a complex molecule.” Oy.

Ah, there’s our hero. Xander Somethingorother (Vin Diesel), who likes to be called X, has just stolen a small-penis car from some government official. He and his buddies are recording this caper to further X’s internet celebrity status. Apparently, the politician guy is a total square who backs totally lame laws. For this reason, we are supposed to root for X as he sends the car flying off a bridge in an ex-TREME fashion with the line, “Moral is, don’t be a dick, Dick.” X’s buddies think he’s totally cool, and the ladies at the afterparty are all catfighting over him. Ain’t they just a bucket o’ class.

At this point, I start to realize that Diesel Fuel is … not a great drink. It’s by no means stomach turning; however, there are far more exciting uses for peach schnapps (in fact, I think I might introduce it to my vanilla soy milk later), so why waste it on a mediocre mix? Besides, I have a perfectly appropriate alternative. What is the French word for wine, boys and girls? Mais oui, c’est “Vin”! So I pour myself a generous glass of homemade Australian Shiraz, and settle in to enjoy the rest of the film.

All right, now X has been kidnapped by the military and is being put through a series of tests which he passes with flying colours, supposedly due to his keen intellect. I don’t buy it. The guy’s response to being thrown from a moving airplane is to be, like, totally pumped, man! That’s just not a sign of intelligence. Not only that, he mumbles and slurs when he speaks. When he cockily asks one of the military men on the plane, “Where’s my peanuts?” it sounds remarkably like “Where’s my penis?” This makes me giggle far more than it ought to.

So once he passes all of these little tests, he’s offered the chance to work for the government to help catch the mean Russian Mafia types in exchange for a clean criminal record. At first, X is reluctant — in the words of his would-be mentor, Samuel L. Jackson, “Is ‘kiss my ass, Scarface?’ your final answer?” Ah, topical humour. That Regis Philbin fellow is such a cut-up. Astoundingly, X does take the deal, and much action ensues. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say that he gains an effeminate skinny little sidekick, does some allegedly cool shit on a bike that gets replayed ad nauseam, out-snowboards a bunch of bad guys and an mother-freakin’ avalanche, blows up a whole bunch of stuff, harpoons a giant robotic bug thingy, and beds several women.

Ah yes, the women of this film. Some classic roles there — makes me wonder why I don’t watch more action films. Yep, most of the gals are throwaway eye candy for the Russian Mafia who get shooed when it’s time to talk business. Never fear, one of the baddies just has to say “Bitches, come,” and a whole bevy returns to entertain the menfolk. On the other hand, if they are capable of talking business with the men, then they have no heart. Every woman is an object; even the heartless “ice princess” intelligent chick gets pimped out to X by her Russian Mafia boyfriend. Then, when she sends X to his room alone, there’s a freakin’ pole dancer awaiting him on his four-poster bed. “The things I gotta do for my country,” says X when he sees her. Oy. But never fear; in the end, our hero melts the heart of the bitchy Russian ice princess and gets her into a bikini in Bora Bora. Happy endings. *sob*

How the Eye Candy Held Up: Guh. Nope, I’m sorry folks—I drank heavily and enjoyed it thoroughly, but there just aren’t thick enough beer goggles in the world. I still don’t get the attraction.

The Rock? With the oddly shaped head and massive physique, he puts me in mind of a potato sitting on a fridge. He’s got the least expressive eyes I’ve ever seen (and I’m including actual potatoes here, people). His clothes were dramatically ripped off in a swordfight, and I felt nothing. Nothing!

Vin Diesel? Well, with the generally dull expression and prominent brow, he looks like the slowest Neanderthal in the class. At first sight, I thought that at least his body was not as hideously huge as The Rock’s; however, when he later appeared in a tight white shirt, his pecs looked like mannaries. The kicker was his voice … ye gods, his awful, adenoidal voice. It’s more grating than Gilbert Gottfried scratching his fingernails on a chalkboard made of Brad Garrett. Nope, I really don’t see the appeal of this guy — in fact, I actually “ugh”-ed out loud watching him kiss the ice princess.

Tastes Like: A smelly, testosterone-soaked ballfest. While some of you may enjoy this sort of thing, it’s not my cup o’ tea at all. Thankfully, the Cemint makes for a delightful palate cleanser. With its sweet, chocolate-minty, creamy fabulousness, it can only be compared to the semen of some magical little pixie. Sadly, Diesel Fuel was a bit of a failed experiment, but what’s the fun of mixing if you don’t get a little adventurous from time to time, right?

Overall Rating: There’s no sense of me giving any rating of the movies themselves; I’m simply not qualified to judge action flicks based on their merits, being completely blind to them and all. I will say that of the two, The Scorpion King at least seemed to take itself a bit less seriously.

More importantly, on a scale of “Cold Fish” to “Hot Tamale,” Meaux’s Patented Love Tester gives both Diesel and Johnson a firm frozen flounder. However, if this were a game of “would you rather?” (and Jason Statham wasn’t an acceptable answer), then I’d grudgingly go with Vin Diesel, provided he maintained a vow of silence. Honestly, he’s really not any more appealing than the alternative, but at least he never worked as a pro wrestler.

Meaux is a twenty-first century hippie, biology geek, and reformed seabird voyeur living in Nova Scotia, Canada. She can be contacted by email at meauxmeaux[at]gmail.com.



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