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“Fast & Furious”: Or, You Can’t Kill Movies that Just Won’t Die

At a second viewing of “Role Models” last weekend (see it twice; it gets funnier the second time), I plopped down in my seat just in time to catch a relatively as-yet-unseen trailer for “Fast & Furious.”

Wait. Stop. Rewind. Did I trip and fall into a wormhole or a freakishly placed tear in the space-time continuum that catapulted me back to 2001 … then 2003 … followed by 2006?

Answer: No. It’s just time for another brainless, pointless installment to the undying cockroach of a movie series that is “Fast and Furious.” Apparently folks were unhappy with “Tokyo Drift,” which departed from the “look and feel of the original and the sequel.” (Yes, I have a friend who said this. Oh, where is a tape recorder when you need it?) It seems the American public demands a new “F & F” movie roughly every two years. The combination of hot dumb guys, hot, scantily-clad chicks, and vroom-vroom-car-go-fast chases is the cinematic equivalent of, say, heroin. Or at least Vicodin.

But maybe I’m biased. Flaming cars driven by sweaty heaps of testosterone into other flaming cars driven by sweaty heaps of testosterone … doesn’t really blow up my skirt. At least not more than once.

Me, I feel confident I can sit out this latest endeavor — if only because I’m angry the powers that be passed on my suggestion for a title (that would be “Faster and Furiouser”). But the whole “F & F” resurgence prompted me to think about other movie franchises that delivered a string of sequels, each more disappointing and joyless than the next. So I came up with a few examples of Viral Movie Strains.

* The “Alien” franchise — Here’s one that bucks the trend: the first, called “Alien,” was so-so, then Ridley Scott blew me away with the sequel. After that? Oh, things went terribly, terribly wrong (re: “Alien 3,” where the most interesting thing was Sigourney’s new ‘do). Then everyone’s favorite pilled-out shoplifter came onboard for “Alien: Resurrection.” The horror, the horror. The directors are partly to blame, but you’d have to point your blamethrower in four directions; no one director stayed with the franchise for more than one movie. But don’t be fooled by the eerie calm; like any self-respecting virus, I suspect that at some point someone will attempt to pump this dry well. 

* “Halloween” — Alright, alright, I hear what you’re not saying — this one’s a gimme. It’s too easy, too obvious. Well, you’re right, and that’s exactly why I picked it. (Occam’s Razor, my friends, Occam’s Razor.) As viruses go, this strain’s like Ebola, able to change its shape and mode of transmission at will. There have been too many horrible attempts to recapture the stellar original’s unassuming, unnerving charisma, too many to count. Sure, there’s such a thing as suspension of disbelief. But a killer who survives stabbings, falls from impossible heights, and being burned alive and doesn’t need a wheelchair to attack his prey? That’s just insulting, not to mention physiologically impossible.

* The “Land Before Time” letdown — When I find the numbskull who convinced the writers of this beloved childhood classic to sell out to Universal Studios — which then promptly made 897 additional “LBT” films of infinitely crappier quality and zero creativity — well, let’s just say I’ve got a can of something I’d like to share with him. And I’m not talking about Coca-Cola. Every time another movie gets released, it’s like raping the original. (Hey, Trey and Matt, make a “South Park” episode out of that one.)

That’s hardly all the offenders, but it’s a start — send in any suggestions. (“Rocky” and “Rambo” are disqualified, since the most recent releases proved to be the best of their kind.)

As for me, I’m going to go home and see if there isn’t some way we can make this whole “Faster and Furiouser” dream into a reality!