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DID YOU READ

The Fast, The Furious, and The Old

The Fast, The Furious, and The Old (photo)

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For a movie about speed, “Fast Five” is sure taking forever to dislodge itself from my brain. This is my fourth piece on the franchise in like ten days. I promise it’s the last (probably).

As the positive reviews and massive box office attest, “Fast Five” satisfies as a straight-ahead action film. It’s a very well-made Hollywood product. Pay your twelve bucks, turn off your brain, and let the punchy-punchy, vroomy-vroomy wash over you; you won’t be disappointed. But if you don’t turn off your brain, and you consider the entire scope of this now decade-long franchise, what begins to emerge in “Fast Five” is a moving story of mortality and lost opportunities.

Diesel and Walker aren’t as young as they used to be; Diesel’s 43, Walker’s 37. In an era when Sylvester Stallone’s still making viagra cinema in his mid-60s, they’re definitely not dinosaurs, but they’re not exactly kids, either. They’re getting dangerously close to becoming what Chris Rock once called “the old guy in the club;” “not too old, just a little too old to be in the club.” These guys used to be underground street racers; can you imagine a 43-year-old dude hanging out with underground street racers? And not just hanging around, but being the coolest guy in the entire scene? That’s even more improbable that surviving a several hundred foot jump from a cliff to a river in a convertible. The whole thing sounds like the plot of a Judd Apatow spoof starring John C. Reilly.

In the parlance of the modern action movie, Diesel and Walker are getting too old for this shit.* By now the “Fast & Furious” franchise has long outlived the cache of the subculture that created it, hence “Fast Five”‘s transition from drag race rebel story to heist film. Though Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Conner’s activities in “Fast Five” are as outrageous and death-defying as ever, you’re starting to see little cracks in the actors’ armor of physical beauty. Walker’s blonde hair isn’t quite so blonde. Diesel’s arms aren’t quite as cut as they used to be. He’s got just the tiniest bit of flab under his chin. And all the dudes’ shirts in this movie seem a lot roomier than they used to be.

I’m not saying this to poke fun, but rather to observe the fact that ten years on these guys are still at this car chase game, and that lends “Fast Five” a certain subterranean whiff of melancholy. In a lot of ways “Fast Five” reminds me of “Jackass 3D,” the third installment in the dudely prank franchise which began its life on MTV right around the same time as “Fast & Furious” did. Ten years later, the Jackasses are still at it too and as “3D”‘s closing credits made clear, there’s something kind of honorable about that, and also something kind of sad too. This is what these guys do. But even if they wanted to stop, they pretty much couldn’t.

In the context of the film, Diesel and Walker’s characters want to get out of the crime game because there’s too many cops chasing them. But astute observers of these actors’ careers know they’ve both tried and failed to leave this franchise before; they too wanted to stop and couldn’t. Diesel split after the first “Fast & Furious;” Walker bailed after “2 Fast 2 Furious.” Six years and however many flops later, they returned for the fourth film. Now the fifth movie is (rightfully) a massive success, all but ensuring a sixth (and, according to a recent interview by Diesel in Entertainment Weekly, maybe a whole other trilogy after that). “Fast & Furious” has an almost Corleonean hold on them: just when they think they’re out, it pulls them back in.

I’m sure they’re quite happy about it now, they’re all making money hand over fist. But it is sort of amazing to think that this goofy franchise that started life as a story of hot rodding meathead philosophers is now about a bunch of guys desperately trying to stop doing the very things audiences come to watch them do. How long can they keep it up? At some point the only thing they’re going to have to be furious about are the damn kids on their lawn.

*Danny Glover knows from Diesel and Walker’s pain. He said he was getting too old for this shit in the first “Lethal Weapon.” Then it became a huge hit and Murtaugh put off retirement for three more movies and eleven friggin’ years.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.