If you’ve seen as many movies as I have — and I’d strongly caution against doing so — you’ll start to notice the patterns in them. Through sheer repetition of stock characters and plot threads, Hollywood perpetuates a lot of myths about modern living that are not exactly true. Many of them are downright ridiculous. We Were Promised Hoverboards is a weekly series that investigates these myths for sociological and comedic purposes.
The Myth: When children enter an unattached person’s life suddenly and temporarily, that person will be annoyed at first, and try to get rid of the kid at some point, but eventually he or she will be won over.
The Perpetrators: The Game Plan, Three Men and a Baby, Kindergarten Cop, Hardball, Role Models, Baby Boom, The Mighty Ducks, About a Boy, Big Daddy, Stepmom, Raising Helen
Some people are just not ready to have kids. Not at all. The charming narcissists, workaholics, athletes, cops, and proudly unattached lotharios who populate certain movies — these people shouldn’t even be trusted with Baby Einstein DVDs. (They might end up trying to drink them or something.) Fortunately, these types usually want nothing to do with kids either, which works out well for everybody. It’s not as though we have an international babies shortage approaching the crisis point, and not every single person was cut out to be a parent. The problem is that whenever any freewheeling character in a movie is temporarily stuck with children, the great adventure of child guardianship quickly makes his or her former life look like a prison of evil temptations.
What exactly causes the cold, desolate hearts of these people to thaw? It can’t be the wacky adjustment period, when they learn how complicated it is to change a diaper (not that complicated!) or what to feed a child for breakfast (if only there was a way to find out!). Usually the bond is forged when the recovering narcissist’s guest-child goes missing. No matter if the kid is stolen by drug dealers (Three Men and a Baby) or he simply wanders off while his new guardian has relations with a schoolteacher (Role Models), the child is always quickly found unharmed, not once ending up in a Bangladeshi human trafficking ring. Although briefly losing the child they’re looking after triggers a moment of doubt, after the swift recovery our heroes are basically ready to mold young minds forever.
Apparently no self-focused lone wolf can remain set in their ways, and even the hardest rocks among us are susceptible to the charms of children (gross.) None of these movies has ever ended with the protagonist thanking God that the burdensome little turd is gone and that everything that was happening before can go back to normal. Movies always go the other way, with the hero realizing that only people with children in their lives can achieve a meaningful existence. What is the takeaway here — that every person who doesn’t want kids just needs to have some thrust upon them in order to change their minds? As though that would be a good thing? Not every bad boy rebel or busy businesswoman has a soft and gooey center. Lots of them, you’ll find, have hard, piercing centers made of greed and cunning, sculpted into the shape of a solid gold self-portrait. Let’s not encourage those people to be around children.