It's terrible being a fan. You gotta take the good with the bad, the hits with the misses, the rolls with the punches.
The sensible thing would be to bail when the cause seems lost. To scurry off the sinking ship.
But you don't. Because you're a fan you stay on board, foolishly believing a return to form is imminent even as you breathe in that deep blue sea. Glub-glub-glub. This is why you're called a "fan" - short for "fanatic" - and not a "sane" - short for what you're clearly not.
I am a Vince Vaughn fan and this is an insane thing to be. There's simply no other way I can quantify why I recently sat through Unfinished Business, the latest in his long run of cinematic turkeys.
I told a colleague I'd seen it and he asked why. I told him it was because I was a Vince Vaughn fan and he blinked at me blankly before repeating the question. This time I didn't have an answer.
It's been so long since Vince Vaughn starred in anything even remotely worth watching that I wonder if I'm the only fan he has left. But each year, like clockwork, a new Vince Vaughn "comedy" comes out and each year, like clockwork, I watch it.
They're never particularly funny. They're certainly never good. But this is the fan's curse. The fan's burden. The fan's fanaticism.
It all began with his breakout role in '96's achingly hip, tremendously funny indie rom-com Swingers. It was just too good. It was a lifetime ago, but a star-creating performance. A performance he's been living - and living off - ever since.
It introduced his fast talkin' snark and his rambling, metaphorical monologues. His highish register blunted the sharper edges of his sarcasm, his crazy likeability gave his detached arrogance a winking inclusiveness and his stuttery, machine gun laugh returned the cool levels back to earth.
He was effortlessly funny. Effortlessly cool. Effortlessly Vince Vaughn.
I became a fan. And I've been one ever since. If I'm honest, it's mostly sucked.
He did try for a while, with leading roles in early noughties greats Made, Old School and Dodgeball along with plenty of memorable appearances in stuff like Anchorman and Starsky & Hutch. And then Wedding Crashers dropped and it was on. Vaughn was the man. Sure, he was playing Vince Vaughn in every single one of these films, but no one plays Vince Vaughn as well as Vince Vaughn does, so it didn't matter.
But from the top the only way is down and Vaughn's descent was rapid. The following year he belly-flopped hard with The Break-Up, an anti-rom-com he wrote, produced and starred in. I thought it was pretty good, but this failure marks ground zero on his filmography. It's the beginning of the end. Everything since has been pretty bad. And that's talking as a fan.
After the critical drubbing he stopped caring and started coasting. He got fat and lazy and began metamorphosing into a sort of budget Adam Sandler; churning out weak Vince Vaughn imitations in weak comedies year after year: Fred Claus, Four Christmases, Couple's Retreat, The Internship, Delivery Man and, yes, Unfinished Business.
Each contains a couple of scenes filled with that old magic, that old spark. He does just enough to make you, as a fan, think that he's still got it. Just enough to make you believe. Even when the evidence is screaming out to the contrary.
So in light of all this I imagine I was one of the few people genuinely excited to hear that he'd been cast in season two of the superb, cerebral thriller series True Detective, which Neon is express screening on Mondays. Most groaned. I searched for someone to high five. I'm still hanging ...
It's easy to forget that before True Detective's first season, star Matthew McConaughey was widely considered a joke. It was his outstanding and mumbly performance in the show which heralded the arrival of the "McConaissance" and demanded a critical reappraisal and new respect for the actor.
True, after his celebrated turns in the films Mud and Dallas Buyers Club McConaughey was starting from a far more solid position than my boy Vince. But I believe that on Monday we're in for an equally revelatory performance. A new dawn of Vaughn, if you will.
I believe this because no matter how bad it gets, no matter what piece of dreck he stars in, I'm a Vince Vaughn fan. I sincerely hope that True Detective finally gives me an answer to the question "why?".