Friday, April 3 by


By Andy Rooney

The other day I took my grandson to go see this newfangled Fast & Furious movie.  It’s the one you’ve been seeing all the ads for on the TV and in the papers.  If you didn’t realize, they still sell newspapers.

I don’t go to movies very often.  The last movie I saw in a theater was Cocoon, with Wilford Brimley.  That was a movie with a real message, and I liked it because I could actually understand what was coming out of the actors’ mouths.  Nowadays, it seems fashionable to make it so that the audience can’t hear what the actors are saying.  Maybe the movie executives don’t want them to know. 

My grandson told me that this is the fourth film in a series, and that it’s the first time Vin Diesel and Paul Walker have starred together since the original film.  He seemed excited about it, but I don’t know why.  Walker and Diesel are no Martin and Lewis.  Call me old fashioned, but is it too much to ask for one lousy song and dance number?  I remember when $12 would have gotten you a month of double features – talkies, no less.  And I knew they were talkies because I could decipher words.  Nowadays, you don’t even get an organist playing before the picture starts. 

I won’t give too much away about Fast and Furious.  I can’t remember much of it.  I can’t remember where I put my socks in the morning.  Plus, during the screening I spent most of the time trying to find my wallet that had fallen out of my pocket and under the seat.  I’ve noticed that they’ve been making pockets in Dockers bigger these days.   I can’t imagine why, given this recession we’re in.

From what I gathered, the movie was about criminals who like to race expensive cars and drive them around like maniacs.   I don’t think many people want to see a movie about criminals.  Call me crazy, but I like to get behind characters with morals. 

There were a lot of cars in Fast and Furious that you couldn’t pay me to drive.  I don’t like a car that calls a lot of attention to itself, like one painted a bright color.  The movie’s full of those.  Brightly colored cars show dust, and who has time these days to clean dust?  So, it was just a bit hard for me to believe that all these young people in the movie were able to maintain their cars’ appearance.  Plus, a little dust might do them some good anyway.  They wouldn’t blind other drivers on the street.  But I think I’ve already established that this film doesn’t preach courteousness. 

I can’t imagine what these characters must pay in auto insurance premiums, if they even have insurance.  But all I kept thinking to myself was, if these kids have money why don’t they put some of it into learning a useful trade, like running a lathe?   I guess it’s a lot easier to run drugs for Latino crime lords.  But something tells me they don’t offer very good medical benefits.  That’s something that a lot of people tend to overlook until they get kidney stones, or need a hip replacement. 

Also, all these characters in Fast and Furious had more than one car.  They’d crash one and just jump in another one, la-di-da.  And that baffles me.  Did you know we have over 200 million cars in America?  That’s more cars than licensed drivers.  We ought to be ashamed. 

The other thing that bothered me about the movie was how fast all these people have to drive.  Credit the filmmakers for at least warning me in the title.  But really, who do these characters think they are?  Every year the auto manufacturers make cars to be faster than before, but cars have always gone faster than is legal to drive them.  You don’t impress me, Vin Diesel.  I don’t care that your car goes zero to sixty in five seconds.  I had a Studebaker in ’49 and it would go 70 miles an hour back then. 

And don’t these people realize hitting the gas like they do isn’t just bad for the transmission; it’s also noise pollution?  That’s a ticketable offense in more counties than you think.  (And try writing an editorial column with ten coffee grinders going off simultaneously.  I’ll be impressed if you get through the first sentence.)

Also, there’s a lot of unnecessary testosterone in this film.  The actors are always in each other’s faces.  I remember having disagreements with my old neighbor when he would borrow my weed whacker longer than he was welcome to.  I’d always win the argument because I read more books than him.  Imagine that concept. 

But in Fast and Furious, some of these arguments are won through fisticuffs, and that just sends the wrong message to youngsters.  There’s a moment in the movie when Paul Walker punches a superior policeman in the face.  One of the more impressionable audience members in my screening went so far as to yell out a homosexual epithet celebrating this insubordination.  I’d like to see that happen with an enlisted man and an officer back in the war.   You’d have your rate stripped.  And forget about shore leave.  

But I suppose that was then and this is now.  Still, I would have approached that youngster after the screening to give him a piece of my mind, but I was still looking for my wallet.

Incidentally, my grandson loved the movie. 


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