F9

Posted on June 22, 2021 at 8:47 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for language, action, sequences of violence
Profanity: Some strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Beer
Violence/ Scariness: Extended peril ad violence, shooting, explosions, martial arts, many people killed or injured
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: June 25, 2021
Date Released to DVD: September 21, 2021

Copyright 2021 Universal
Let’s be real about F9. If we can use a word like “real” to describe a series of films that parted ways with reality at least six or seven movies ago. But, knowing that, if you’re still here and I’m still here, we’ve pretty much agreed that’s okay and so the usual information potential ticket-buyers look for in a movie review is not really relevant. So, we can do what this movie does, and cut to the chase.

Here’s what you need to know. Director Justin Lin and his co-producer/star Vin Diesel know why we’re here; we want to see some crazy action scenes with characters we know so well that when Dom says once again that he doesn’t have friends; he has family, we almost feel that we’re part of the family now, too. So, “F9” delivers what the fans want, which is more and wilder action, and a bit more family, too. In fact, this time we get some backstory, with teenage brother and sister Dom (Diesel) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) and their dad, race car driver Jack Toretto (JD Pardo). It turns out there’s another brother, too, Jakob (Finn Cole). And we get to see how a tragedy on the racecourse leads to the brothers going in different directions. Jakob comes back into the story as John Cena.

If you’re a casual fan, all you need to know is that this movie has a lot of fun, if highly improbable, action scenes, including Vin Diesel as a passenger in a crazy car chase through London with none other than Dame Helen Mirren at the wheel. If you’re really into the series, you’ll want to know that many other favorite characters return, some more surprisingly than others. Also, if you’re really into the series you already know that the third movie in the series is the eighth in the chronology (also the first directed by Lin). That movie ended with another tragic exploding car death, of a mentor named Han (Sung Kang). But if we’ve learned one thing from this series, it is that sometimes people you think were either dead or bad turn out to be neither.

Two scenes I particularly loved will be the best litmus test for your decision on whether to buy a ticket (and if you do, please make it the Dolby experience). We’ve all seen fights before. We’ve seen fights where our two guys take on six bad guys. We’ve probably seen fights in the back of a big moving van, but here’s where the “Fast and Furious” franchise says to themselves, “How can we make things even more interesting?” And at some point someone says, “Let’s have the fight take place when the van is being (a) being chased by more bad guys, (b) being driven by someone who has never driven before, and (c) carrying the world’s most powerful electro-magnet, which is being turned on and off, sometimes on purpose and sometimes not. Wow.

The other scene has Roman, the comic relief character played by the almost-impossibly handsome Tyrese, says something that does not quite break the fourth wall between the characters and the audience but bends it a little. He mentions the un-mentionable — somehow no matter how many of the most lethal weapons ever conceived are shooting and exploding all around them, no matter how outnumbered they are, no matter how many impossible jumps they attempt to make in vehicles, somehow they all walk away without a scratch. Could it be, he wonders, that they’re not human? The real-life answer is that they’re not; they’re fictional characters. His conjecture is, maybe, that they could be un-killable? The real-life answer to that one is yes, as long as people keep buying tickets to the sequels.

In another scene, a character says, “If this was a movie, this would be when….” just to remind us that they know we know.

They can’t make the title any shorter. What’s the next one going to be called, just F? Will there be another “Hobbs & Shaw?” A spin-off about Dom’s early days? If they feature Helen Mirren and a Pontiac Fiero shot into space or whatever even crazier stuff they can dream up, I’m in.

NOTE: Stay for the mid-credits sequence for another familiar face.

Parents should know that this film includes constant action and peril including teenagers witnessing the death of a parent in a fiery crash and endless shoot-outs and chases, one through a minefield. Characters use strong language and drink beer. Bad guys plot world domination.

Family discussion: When does someone deserve a second chance? Should Letty have called Mia?

If you like this, try: the other films in the series, especially “Tokyo Drift” and “Hobbs & Shaw.”

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Summer Movies 2021! Back in the Theater and at Home!!!!

Posted on June 1, 2021 at 7:13 pm

Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, Disney and Pixar’s “Luca” is a coming-of-age story about a boy and his newfound best friend experiencing an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta and endless scooter rides. But their fun is threatened by a secret: they are sea monsters from another world. “Luca” is directed by Enrico Casarosa (“La Luna”) and produced by Andrea Warren (“Lava,” “Cars 3”). © 2020 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
Happy June! Lots of great stuff coming our way this summer and I think you will agree with me that IT’S ABOUT TIME! And best of all, as I say every year, some movie no one is paying attention to now will bring us unexpected joy.

Sequels and remakes

F9 — I used to joke about how the “Fast and Furious” movie titles were getting shorter every time and some day it would just be “F” and what do you know, here we are.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife — The saga continues with Jason Reitman, son of Ivan Reitman, who wrote and directed the original, taking over for his dad. A new cast of character find their connection to the original crew, who reprise their roles.

Black Widow — Scarlett Johansson’s Avengers character gets the movie the fans have waited for.

Space Jam: A New Legacy: Basketball and cartoon characters return. This looks better than the original!

Suicide Squad 2 — This one seems to look better than the original, too, I hope?

Action and Adventure and Thrills

Jungle Cruise: Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt star in this Disneyland ride-inspired adventure that looks like a cross between “Jumanji” and the original “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Free Guy: Feel like I’ve been waiting forever for this Ryan Reynolds action fantasy about a video game character. (Reynolds is also appearing this summer in an action-comedy sequel, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.”

The Green Knight — One of the most enduring legends of Western culture is brought to life starring Dev Patel.

Reminiscence — Hugh Jackman stars in a movie about a service that makes it possible for you to relive your memories. What could go wrong?

The Tomorrow War — Time travelers from the future arrive to gather today’s people to help them fight a war with an alien.

The Misfits — Pierce Brosnan plays a thief recruited by a group of young crooks to pull off a heist.

Old — M. Knight Shamalyn is back to scare us with the story of a beach that accelerates aging.

Music!

In the Heights — Before “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the music for this Tony Award-winning musical about the residents of a Latin-American community.

Respect — Aretha Franklin told Jennifer Hudson that someday she would play the Queen of Soul in a biopic, and here it is.

Summer of Soul — Dazzling recovered footage from the “Black Woodstock,”featuring B.B. King, Stevie Wonder and more, brought to us from Questlove.

The Beatles: Get Back — “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson is behind this documentary made from more than 50 hours of extra footage from “Let it Be”

For the Family

Wish Dragon — A teenager who longs to be reunited with his best friend meets a dragon that grants wishes.

Luca — Pixar’s latest is set in sunny Italy, the story of boys who become sea creatures when they are wet. Or are they sea creatures who become boys when they are dry?

Peter Rabbit 2 — I didn’t think much of the first one. Another sequel I hope is better.

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania — Episode four in the series about the lovable monsters has humans turning into monsters and monsters turning into — horrors! — humans!

Festival Favorite:

CODA — It stands for children of deaf adults, and this story of a hearing daughter of deaf parents won big at Sundance.

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