Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Double Your Pleasure: My Review of "2 Fast 2 Furious"

Modern commerce is threatening to derail my enterprise. I've been scouring the Cities in search of (reasonably priced) DVD's of The Fast and the Furious series with no success. My quest has taken me to two Half Priced Books locations, the Family Video in New Brighton, the online catalogs of the Hennepin, Anoka and Ramsey County libraries (the three systems for which I have library cards), Savers at Hi-Lake and, for the first time ever, a pawn shop.

Granted, there are still plenty more options for me to exhaust, but I've nearly exhausted myself. The point is: This is not what I would call Progress. Why, I remember when you could find a DVD of almost any mainstream movie at one of your neighborhood video stores! Sure, towards the end of the Blockbuster Era, it might cost you $5 to rent a new release for two nights, but still. How things have changed, just in the last 5 years. It's a sad commentary on the ministrations of the Invisible Hand of the Free Market.

Well, anyway, my blogging schedule is already shot. I took way too long recapitulating the original film yesterday and was unable to find the aforementioned discount DVD's, so I didn't watch the third and fourth films in the franchise, as was the plan. At this point, dear reader, I can no longer promise reviews of every movie in the series this week. But I'd still like to watch them all before going to Furious 7 tomorrow. It remains a tall order and one that is perhaps beyond my grasp of the contemporary DVD market.

However, there's still a movie to review, so let's get to it! 2 Fast 2 Furious was actually more to my liking than the original. Maybe the first movie wore down my resistance, although I think it had more to do with the preponderance of "bangin'" honeys, the vibrant palette of cars and clothes and the sun and surf of South Florida. The original has a duller, copper-y cast to it that aligns with its more serious interest in plot and character development. The sequel is all about fun in the sun, which is part of what brought me to this project in the first place.

For me, the primary upgrade was from Jordana Brewster to Eva Mendes. Now, it should be said that Ms. Mendes is horrible in this movie. And I mean HORRIBLE. She's lucky she didn't have her SAG card revoked. But, every time I was about to give up on her, she'd come out in another jaw-dropping outfit, lookin' all good and stuff, and all would be forgiven. After a while, I just wanted her to be scenery, because her attempts at acting, though hilarious, were really just getting in the way.

Early on, I found it difficult to follow her briefing of P-Dub (Paul Walker) and Tyrese, because her cleavage is so incredibly distracting. It doesn't matter, of course, because this movie is concerned with splurging on the eye candy and soft-pedaling the story. In addition to Eva, Tyrese, Ludacris and Suki represent upgrades over, respectively, Vin Diesel, Ja Rule and that one East Asian chick in the naughty schoolgirl outfit. Even though the anonymous booty is bountiful, Suki is a hot lady racer and a valued, if still objectified, member of the team.

Cole Hauser plays the inevitable Latin American crime boss, Carter Veron, with the help of makeup left over from Miami Vice. If you're like me, you'll remember him as one of the ass-paddling upperclassmen in Dazed and Confused. He actually doesn't embarrass himself in a role that's begging for Jodie-Foster-in-Nell heights of hilarity. Of course, Eva is usually standing next to him, and any actor would've looked competent by comparison.

Another person who keeps their dignity intact throughout the film is Tyrese. His enthusiasm and joy are truly infectious, and he even brings some humor to what would otherwise be lame one-liners. He and P-Dub have to deal with two meatheads, one of whom he calls "Fonzi." The guy looks more like Bowzer from Sha Na Na, but Tyrese makes it work. He also gets to take off his shirt and reveal his ridiculously chiseled torso, and, if the ladies didn't appreciate that, then I know nothing about women. (Rather than address the mockery that the previous sentence surely invited, I'll just move on.)

P-Dub doesn't really break new ground with his character, but he does look good and fun-loving in this setting, and that's all he needs to do. The only breakthrough in this film is in the various permutations of the word "bro." Tyrese and P-Dub expand the possibilities of its pronunciation, rolling out "bruh," "brae" (short "e" vowel sound) and the heretofore-merely-theoretical "bra," with a short "a." It's indicative of their easy chemistry that the whole experiment doesn't seem completely absurd.

In their effort to blow out the franchise, credulity is stretched beyond the breaking point by a few of the special effects. P-Dub wins the film's initial race by flying off a raised bridge and leapfrogging the equally airborne front-runner. Tyrese and P-Dub nab the kingpin by jumping their new Challenger off a pier onto a yacht in a laughably CGI'd maneuver. The psychedelic effects of "noz" (nitrous oxide) on the driver's perception of time and space, which was established in the original, is expanded here to 2001: A Space Odyssey proportions.

In lieu of any analysis of the afterthought of a plot, here are a few of my takeaways from the film:
  • Mexican standoffs don't work when only one participant knows Spanish.
  • Vintage muscle cars will always be cool.
  • East Asian girls like pink, Black guys like gold and Latinos like red.
  • The police may or may not have in their possession a shoulder-mounted weapon that fires a device capable of latching onto your car and disabling its electrical system.
  • If I ever make a car movie, it'll be called Carmada, which was inspired by the fleet of cars employed in the climax to enable Tyrese and P-Dub's escape from a warehouse where the police think they have them cornered.
For me, the movie is summed up in a brief shot of two hot chicks taking their seats on the back end of a pickup. They're not doing anything significant or amusing. They have no narrative role. They're just two hot chicks bein' hot. And, sometimes, that's enough.

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