Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I don't think anyone sits down to watch The Fast & The Furious 3: Tokyo Drift expecting to like it. Even people who liked the first two Fast & The Furiouses don't viscerally anticipate satisfaction. People who like racing might trick themselves into expecting joy but it's more out of obligation than anything else.

I don't expect to like third installments in franchises with loose definitions of continuity. I don't expect to know people who expect to like movies where product placement is a foregone and vivid conclusion.

So you can understand a certain amount of incredulity on my part upon discovery of my parents not only watching but LIKING The Fast & The Furious 3: Tokyo Drift.

Just after arriving at and flopping into a chair in my parents' living room in upstate New York, I asked them - avid cinephiles - if they'd seen anything good recently. As it turned out, they had seen something "good" that very night just before I arrived. In fact, it was "arresting" and "visually sublime" too.

"Have you seen The Fast & The Furious 3: Tokyo Drift?" my dad asked.
"Have I seen The Fast & The Furious 3: Tokyo Drift?" Had I heard right?
"It's good," my mom noted from her perch on the couch. "Yes, very good," added my dad.
I blinked. "The Fast & The Furious 3: Tokyo Drift?!?" I repeated.
"No," I definitively answered.
"Oh, you really should," one of them declared with confidence.
"Shut up," I replied, sensing a joke at my expense.
"I think it's on again in a few minutes." My dad started leafing through the listings for the multiple HBOs on their DirectTV. "HBO West. In 2 minutes."
"Did you know people race like that in Tokyo?" my mom asked, more confirming her knowledge of a racing subgenre I was not yet hip to. "Do you know what drifting is?"

In short, I watched all of The Fast & The Furious 3: Tokyo Drift (saying the full title at all times is expected) later that evening. Any doubts I had about my parents' feelings for The Fast & The Furious 3: Tokyo Drift evaporated after they rewatched its first act with me.

"See? Isn't this great? That's great. Look at that shot!" My dad could barely contain his excitement. "This storyline kind of has to go." But he's still a realist.

The story is fairly goofy.
The characters are poorly developed. Even Bow Wow FKA L'il Bow Wow.
It is completely worth watching. It mostly has to do with the visual quality of the racing scenes, the way Tokyo is photographed, the different manners of car fetishization and the way it's paced - moving the action along at a good, unpretentious clip.
It is fun to watch.

These days, I don't expect to like most movies that come out. I get worked up over a couple new releases that appear in my wheelhouse but cynically and inappropriately feel that my time is too valuable to waste on movies with a chance of being less than perfect. I think this is symptomatic of an overall less hopeful viewpoint I've been employing as a means to being lazy and not risking smirking contentment for the chance of seeing something that exceeds expectations.

When I was younger, I had the reputation of liking most movies, of at least having a hard time saying anything negative about a moviemaker. I don't want to give up my ability to be critical in a sophisticated and constructive manner but maybe it would be good for me to return to a more naive, forgiving vantage point. What my parents illustrated for me is the value in not being a slave to my expectations, in not assuming that presentation or context necessarily guarantees worthlessness. It is good to take a risk and it is good to be surprised.

My expectations for The Fast & The Furious 4: Ready! Set! Greenland! have yet to be determined.


Blogger Grizzly Dad said...

My Dad recently told me he and my Mom watched Wild Hogs, and something in me felt bad after I said "Why?". He said something about how William H. Macy is funny, but I wasn't really listening.

10:06 AM  

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