A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Fast and the Furious is as close to an R-rated film as it can be and remain PG-13. It's very violent, with shoot-outs that leave one character dead and another seriously wounded. A character takes one risk that appears suicidal. Characters drink and smoke. Corona beer seems to be an especially obvious product placement, and giving someone a beer is a gesture of honor and acceptance. There are kisses between opposite-sex and same-sex couples, some very questionable behavior, and women in scanty clothing who are constantly objectified. A woman's breasts are shown through a wet shirt. A woman tells a driver at the starting line of a street race that if he wins, he gets to have a threesome with her and another woman. Men grope at women's breasts and rear ends. Characters use very strong language, including "f--k" and the "N" word and other racial slurs. Viewers see some gross photographs of an injured man. Characters are in extreme peril, both in racing and in shoot-outs. Robbing and shooting are sympathetically portrayed, and Brian's ultimate decision is a serious betrayal.
Movie shows excellent rendition of street racing, though filled with inappropiate content for younger eyes and ears.
What's the story?
In THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, Brian (Paul Walker) is a loner with a fancy race car who wants to get into the hidden world of street racers. He also wants to get close to Mia (Jordana Brewster), the pretty sister of the fastest driver of them all. The street racers take over a quarter-mile stretch for races that last less than 10 seconds, then disperse before the police catch up with them. Brian challenges Mia's brother Dom (Vin Diesel) and loses both the race and his car to the jeers of the onlookers. But he rescues Dom from the police and sticks with him through an encounter with a rival gang. Soon, he's a member of Dom's ragtag team of outcasts: mechanic Jesse (Chad Lindberg), brooding Vince (Matt Schulze), and tough girl Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). But after races and chases in various locales, it turns out that neither Dom nor Brian has been telling the truth and that both will have to put what they care about most on the line before it's all over.
Is it any good?
This could have been a classic summer popcorn movie, but it turned out to be a numbing waste of celluloid, a bad, bad movie that can't fake authenticity. It's not about what's cool or what the people in the audience think is cool. It's about what people in Hollywood think the people in the audience think is cool.
There's a lot of posing and attitude, and nearly every line is a cliché, spoken without any sense of irony, tribute, or transcendence. There is some flashy photography, a lot of blasting faux-hip rap music, very fine cars, and sprays of automatic-weapon bullets that manage to miss all the main characters. The last 15 minutes is genuinely, deeply, infuriatingly stupid. Diesel and Rodriguez are talented and watchable, but The Fast and the Furious insists on interfering with our ability to enjoy them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way outcasts create families, such as the scene in The Fast and the Furious where Dom presides over a barbecue dinner that looks like a cover illustration from Tattooed Biker done by Norman Rockwell -- and they even say grace.
How are women portrayed in this movie?
What do you think is the appeal of movies in which cars are altered to go at very fast speeds and the drivers take outrageous risks? What are some of the stunts best filed under "Do not try this at home"?
- In theaters: June 22, 2001
- On DVD or streaming: June 3, 2003
- Cast: Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker, Vin Diesel
- Director: Rob Cohen
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship
- Run time: 106 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, language, and brief sexuality
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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.