The Fast and the Furious
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is as close to an R as it can be and remain a 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 is a same-sex kiss, some skanky behavior, and women appear in scanty clothing. There's a non-graphic but explicit sexual situation. Characters use very strong language, including 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.
What's the story?
In THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, Brian (Paul Walker) is a loner with a fancy racecar who wants to get into the hidden world of street racers. He also wants to get close 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 is a member of Dom's rag-tag 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 is all over.
Is it any good?
I don't ask for much from summer popcorn movies. Give me some car chases and explosions, some romance, and a nasty villain who meets a nastier end, and I'm happy. I had high hopes for The Fast and the Furious to be a classic of this genre, but it turned out to be a numbing waste of celluloid, a bad, bad movie that cannot even fake authenticity. It is not about what is cool or about what the people in the audience think is cool. It is about what people in Hollywood think that the people in the audience think is cool.
There is 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 fifteen minutes is genuinely, deeply, infuriatingly stupid. Diesel and Rodriguez are talented and watchable, but this movie insists on interfering with our ability to enjoy them.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the way that even outcasts create families, as where Dom presides over a barbecue dinner that is like a cover illustration from Tatooed Biker done by Norman Rockwell. They even say grace. They could also talk about the people who do not tell each other the truth, and those who make the decision to violate the law to make things easier for themselves.