A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fast & Furious is the action-packed fourth installment in the Fast and Furious series that's heavily marketed to teens. There's plenty of violence, including explosions, shoot outs, fistfights, and lots of car chases -- which end in at least a few deaths (though most are implied rather than shown directly). There are only two love scenes (and the camera cuts before the act itself), but there's plenty of other risque stuff, including several shots of half-dressed women kissing each other and dancing provocatively. Language includes frequent use of words like "s--t," "bitch," and "p---y," as well as Spanish curse words. Characters drink and smoke, and drugs/the drug trade plays a central role in the plot.
What's the story?
The original crew is back, and they're all still FAST & FURIOUS. Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his girlfriend, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), are running a profitable gas-stealing scheme in the Dominican Republic when he gets a tip that the feds are after him again. Afraid to endanger his friends, he splits to Panama, where his sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster), eventually calls with awful news. Driven by a need for vengeance, Dom returns to the streets of L.A., where he's determined to catch the thug who's wronged him. To that end, he reluctantly teams up with Paul Walker's FBI Agent Brian O'Conner (who decieved Dom in the original movie) to bring down the head of an international drug ring.
Is it any good?
With its ubiquitous muscle cars, sexy babes, and a catchy soundtrack, this sequel is sure to entertain its target audience of young males looking for some hard-bodied eye candy. Devotees of the franchise should also be particularly pleased with the return of Diesel and the underappreciated Rodriguez, who's especially exciting to watch in the opening chase sequence.
What's disappointing is how writer Chris Morgan (who also wrote Wanted and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) has made Fast & Furious so angsty. Walker is incapable of looking animated, so why give him rambling monologues about respect and codes of conduct? Diesel doesn't grieve so much as squint and grimace, yet viewers are subjected to scene after scene of him trying to act wistful, like when he stares at an old photograph or the car he and Letty restored. Let's get real -- people don't care about Dom's feelings, they just want to see him rev his engine in unbelievable chase sequences. The rest is filler.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the the fact that, except for two or three women, most of Fast & Furious' female characters are sexy decoration. What kind of message does that send to girls? Do you think the filmmakers care, or are they going after an entirely different audience?
What do you think of the idea that some people live by a "code" and others don't? Does following your own set of rules mean that it's OK to do illegal or other iffy things if you think you have a good reason? Which characters in the movie have a code, and which don't?
- In theaters: April 3, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: July 28, 2009
- Cast: Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker, Vin Diesel
- Director: Justin Lin
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual content, language and drug references
For kids who love action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.