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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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.

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It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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