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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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