Here we go. Dom Toretto, the skittish but adorable avatar of blockbuster season, has inched his Dodge Challenger out of his humble Echo Park garage, revved the engine just enough to startle the hundreds of local TV crews documenting this ancient rite of late spring, and, failing to see the depressing shadow of the middling Dumpuary fare we’ve all endured since the calendar turned to this new year, jammed a lead paw down on the gas pedal and sent the muscle car lurching forward into the daylight. Had its mighty engine not drowned out all other sound with its deafening roar, those gaping newscasters might have heard old Dom grunt his traditional message as he scattered the crowd with an intimidating series of turf-shredding doughnuts:
“Summer’s here, bitches.”
Indeed, it’s barely April, and a seemingly never-ending snowfall still taunts many of our friends in far less geographically blessed locales than the Furious franchise’s native Los Angeles, but Dom, a man with a code, never lies: Summer has arrived.1 It’s here for us whether we’re ready for it or not; the smell of scorched and overbuttered popcorn wafts through the air, we’re already fighting the strengthening rays of the digital projector with the protective, if irreversibly filthy, lenses of our 3-D glasses, and Fandango has approved direct-debit access to our checking accounts. There is no stopping blockbuster season now. There is only kneeling down before its merciless steamroller to pray that the flattening will be swift. (It is never swift. Steamrollers are very slow.)
IMPORTANT CALENDAR NOTE: It really begins on May 1, with the Avengers: Age of Ultron. Grantland and Marvel are owned by Disney.
And so, dear friends, we are here once again to assist you with your ticket-buying choices in any way we can. Furious 7 roars into our lives this Friday. When it pulls up at your front door and shouts at you to get in, should you once again ride shotgun with Dom’s crew? Or is it finally time to refuse his mumbled call to action and sit this one out, knowing that Captain America will be following close behind on a hover-carrier? We have the answers. All the answers, if you trust us with this very important decision. Dom would understand, even if things don’t break his way. He’s just happy to be out of that garage.
Do you need to be sad sometimes?
Let’s tackle the Paul Walker situation right off the line. We all know that Walker tragically died before he could finish his work on Furious 7, and this represents the last time we will see new material from him on the big screen. There is no way to sit in a theater watching Walker’s last moments with his onscreen family for two hours without that fact coloring — and deepening — the experience, and the filmmakers completed the movie with that unavoidable fact in mind. His brothers stepped in to fill in the few remaining gaps in shooting. A still-emotional Vin Diesel named his newborn daughter Pauline in honor of his fallen friend.
No spoilers. But suffice it to say that Furious 7 is a fitting tribute to Walker’s legacy. There is a pretty good chance you will leave crying. You’re crying already? It’s OK. You’re a human being. You’re not made of whatever impenetrable material they used to craft the Rock’s swollen torso. Nobody is. Not even Vin Diesel. That daughter story is emotionally devastating.
SEE IT. Sometimes it’s nice to EXPERIENCE FEELINGS OTHER THAN IMAX MOTION SICKNESS in a darkened room FULL OF STRANGERS. Things aren’t HAPPY ALL THE TIME, even at summer movies. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s CONTINUE WITH THE USUAL NONSENSE.
Do you like blockbusters?
We mean, of course you like blockbusters! Everybody does! That’s why a panicked Hollywood plows its diminishing billions of theatrical dollars into sequels and reboots and franchises and universes and resequeluniboots.2 It’s because between April and September, no one — that’s right, no one! Not even you, Mr. I Saw All Of The Oscar Movies This Year — wants to watch anything that is not at least 65 percent bowel-perforating explosions. We go to the multiplex to do grievous damage to our bodies. It’s the only way we get to feel anything besides “crippling anxiety about every single other part of our increasingly meaningless lives.”
Again, Grantland is owned by the Walt Disney Resequeluniboot.
Anyway, there’s great news here for blockbuster lovers, i.e., everyone. Furious 7 is every blockbuster; buy a ticket to this one and you can pretty much sit out the rest of the summer if you are so inclined. It’s The Avengers. (Quick Furious to Avenger conversion guide: Dom = The Hulk; Brian = Captain America; Hobbs = Thor + Nick Fury; Letty = Black Widow; Roman = Iron Man if he were incredibly annoying; Tej = Hawkeye, because he’s useless. See, the math works out.) It’s Terminator: Genisys when newish cast member Jason Statham shows up to chase them like a deranged robot with an impenetrable accent. It has the heavily armored frankencars of Mad Max: Fury Road slamming into one another over and over. It shares a gilded-posse sensibility as well as Ronda Rousey with the Entourage movie, with which it will compete for an Oscar. It’s directed like new helmer James Wan jacked himself into the Michael Bay Matrix and emerged with the ability to slow down (and then speed up) time and shoot unnecessary car wash scenes with hundreds of swooping cameras. It even has a little Pitch Perfect 2 in it. Don’t ask. Let yourself be delighted by the the show-stopping Rihanna number at Nationals you’ll never see coming. We’ve said too much!
SEE IT. Just imagine THE INCREDIBLE SAVINGS you’ll realize by seeing only ONE BLOCKBUSTER this summer. Go nuts and get yourself the HERO-SIZE TUB OF NESTLE® DIBS. That’s right, the ONES WITH THE CRUNCH COATING, because YOU DESERVE IT. Also, the “Dom is the Hulk” equation is more of a VOCABULARY/LINE-DELIVERY THING than a LEADERSHIP THING. We further maintain our stance on TEJ’s ESSENTIAL USELESSNESS. Sorry, LUDARENNER.
Would you like for all of Vin Diesel’s dreams to come true?
Nobody in Hollywood — and perhaps on the planet — dreams bigger than Vin Diesel. His bouncer-to-superstar origin story is legend, and he has proven again and again a Secret-like ability to manifest every fantasy as an even more incredible reality.
He’s been an extreme-sports-trained spy. He’s worked with Spielberg. He’s exploded a successful personal brand by willing himself to semi-believability wearing hairpieces and Babybjörns. He somehow made franchises of a car-chase flick and a guy-with-light-sensitivity-fighting-aliens-in-the-dark movie. He’s created a show about his modest beginnings because no matter how quickly the velvet ropes part for him now, he can’t ever let himself forget he used to be the one holding them and telling everybody who’d listen, “One day I’m going to use my enormous clout to turn this into a TV series nobody has ever seen.” We’ve said it before, and we will say it one more time, for emphasis: You bet against Vin Diesel at grave personal risk.
And Vin Diesel has very big dreams for Furious 7. Biggest-movie-in-history dreams. Best Picture dreams. Single-handedly-making-the-Oscars-relevant-again dreams. No, he is not kidding. Vin Diesel never kids about his dreams. Just ask all the elephants he’s going to purchase — not rent, because he will eventually set them free to live out the rest of their lives in a wildlife sanctuary he’s also funding — at unfathomable cost to realize his long-gestating Hannibal Barca passion project. Go ahead and laugh. He’s already using the Diesel Secret to stuff those laughs right back down your disbelieving throat.
SKIP IT. Vin Diesel doesn’t need you if you’re GOING TO BE LIKE THAT. He can DO THIS HIMSELF. He’s done it before, and HE WILL DO IT AGAIN. There is a VELVET ROPE stretched across the ENTRANCE OF HIS MANSION, and he PULLS IT ASIDE HIMSELF EACH AND EVERY DAY.
How much do you miss having Kurt Russell around all the time? A lot, right?
Who doesn’t want Kurt Russell around? Even with a cast that’s bursting at the seams with talent — the newcomers include the aforementioned Statham and Rousey, Ong-bak’s Tony Jaa, Djimon Hounsou’s Djimon Hounsou, Nathalie Emmanuel from Game of Thrones, and a Very Special Pointless Cameo by Iggy Azalea — there’s always room for Kurt Russell on the call sheet. His Mr. Nobody is an oilier Pat Riley at the command of an organization even more dangerous than the Miami Heat, and he does more for the phrase “Belgian ale”3 than a thousand silent monks toiling in the obscurity of their abbey’s craft brewery.
Shout-out to Corona for some very conspicuous product placement in the “Belgian ale” scene, because Dom’s not going to drink that fancy-ass euro-swill, he just wants a cold cerveza at the barbecue, hombre.
SEE IT and do your part to KEEP KURT RUSSELL IN OUR LIVES. We can’t scratch that Russell itch JUST BY WATCHING BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA and TANGO & CASH every weekend. Look at this MAGNIFICENT CHAMELEON BASTARD in the clip, playing JEFF BRIDGES PLAYING DAVID CROSBY. He’s a master of his craft. Don’t let GOLDIE HAWN WIN THEIR RELATIONSHIP.
Are you into the Rock?
Everyone’s into the Rock. You’re not so special. He’s the best star in the world!
SKIP IT. Another Dwayne Johnson project will be along in 10 minutes. He’s worked VERY HARD to be IN ALL THE MOVIES. Maybe he should CONTINUE TO SHARE WITH KURT RUSSELL and keep PAYING THAT INCREDIBLE SUCCESS FORWARD.
Do you enjoy lines of dialogue so well crafted that they should be used as the tagline on the movie poster?
Try these actual quotes on for size, why-aren’t-these-on-the-movie-poster-wise:
“This time it ain’t just about being fast.”
“You might want to put on your helmet for this one.”
“You ride, I ride. You die, I die.”
“Words ain’t even been invented yet.”
SEE IT. We almost included “HE’S GONNA WISH HIS MOMMA KEPT HER LEGS CLOSED,” but that seemed more appropriate for one of those character posters, probably featuring THE ROCK DOING HIS PEOPLE’S-EYEBROW BIT.
Do you believe that cars can fly?
We’ve been promised flying cars from virtually the moment the Model T rolled off the assembly line and the first automotive ingrate sneered, “It would be cooler if it had some wings, no?” Furious 7 is committed to the realization of this airborne vision in a way that no movie since Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has dared. Cars fly out of the back of cargo planes and pirouette through the sky like gleaming angels, drifting gently down on gossamer parachutes. Cars fly between hundred-story office towers in Abu Dhabi. Cars fly up ramps, and off cliffs, and through the guardrails of winding mountain roads, haughty antigravity activists with no regard for where they might land, working to repeal the largely irrelevant laws of physics that try in vain to keep them earthbound.
SEE IT. Cars can fly. Nay, CARS MUST FLY. It is ALSO POSSIBLE that the filmmakers have GOTTEN A LITTLE BORED WITH CAR CHASES, so LET’S SEE WHAT HAPPENS when we DRIVE A MILLION-DOLLAR SUPERCAR OUT OF A SKYSCRAPER WINDOW IN THE MIDDLE EAST.
Do you love that thing where people park their amazing cars next to each other and then step out of the cars in synchronized fashion?
Who doesn’t love that thing? That thing is incredible.
SEE IT. They TOTALLY DO THAT THING. And they also STAND NEXT TO EACH OTHER and TAKE IN THE MAJESTY OF DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES, which is also A THING EVERYBODY LOVES, especially THE ENTOURAGE BOYS.
Have you ever tried to win a heated bar argument about how underrated Michelle Rodriguez is?
Think about it for a second. Rodriguez has been a part of two of the most influential cultural institutions of the last 15 years: The Fast & Furious franchise and Lost. She’s dominating screens of various sizes, from the multiplex to the living room. How many people in Hollywood can say that? OK, the Rock, again, once Ballers premieres on HBO, but come on, enough with that dude today. And Matthew McConaughey. That’s the end of the list. Nobody else ever. Ever! No, you’re drunk.
SEE IT. Not since Julianne Moore in Still Alice will you see a MORE NUANCED PERFORMANCE about a woman struggling with memory issues than M-Rod’s Letty in Furious 7. And where is MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ’S TRUE DETECTIVE? Fine, maybe we’re A TINY BIT DRUNK. But we are STILL WILLING to fight you on this WHEN WE SOBER UP A LITTLE. Hey, are you going to FINISH THAT BOTTLE OF PEPPERMINT SCHNAPPS or is it UP FOR GRABS? Free schnapps, BRO.
Before we go, do you feel a little weird about how we left things with Vin Diesel’s dreams?
Now that you mention it, we do. Should we see it and help Vin Diesel out? It’s going to take a lot of money to beat Avatar.
Vin Diesel has thought about it for a minute and APOLOGIZES. He does, in fact, NEED YOUR HELP to make this the BIGGEST MOVIE IN HISTORY because you have to BUY LIKE A BILLION DOLLARS IN TICKETS. He doesn’t have the LIQUIDITY TO PURCHASE THEM ALL HIMSELF. There’s a considerable amount of his INCREDIBLE PERSONAL WEALTH TIED UP IN ELEPHANTS AT THE MOMENT. Sometimes there is no shame in asking other people to LEND A HAND WITH YOUR DREAMS.
We love you, Vin Diesel.
Your LOVE IS JUST AS IMPORTANT as having his ENORMOUS HANDS AND FEET PRESERVED FOREVER ON THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME. Vin Diesel REALIZES THAT NOW. Together, we ALL HAVE POURED THE WET CEMENT OF IMMORTALITY.
Please SEE IT.