April 29, 2011, - 3:30 pm

Weekend Box Office: Fast Five, Prom, Princess of Montpensier

By Debbie Schlussel

You may be surprised by the movie I really liked for this weekend, but it’s the perfect antidote for those of us sick and tired of hearing about the Royal Wedding, especially red-blooded American men.

*  “Fast Five“:  Loved it.  It’s definitely the best of the “Fast and Furious” franchise of movies.  No, it’s not a masterpiece or deep thinking movie–and yes it has some very cheesy lines and stunts that aren’t believable.  But it’s the best of everything you’d expect from a Fast/Furious movie.  It delivered and was far better than anything I expected.  It’s pure escapism that fully engages you and takes your mind off of real life in a fun way.  There are lots of cool luxury sports cars, car chases and races, cool stunts, heart-pumping action, explosions, and almost all of the Fast/Furious originals:  Vin Diesel, the very hot Paul Walker, the beautiful Jordana Brewster (though both Walker and Brewster have aged and look noticeably older, they still look very good), and a few new cast members.  I could have done without Obama’s fave lewd rap star Ludacris, but his role is minor.

Also in the movie and adding nothing is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who is kind of annoying and silly in his role as a tough U.S. federal agent from the Diplomatic Security Services, who is hunting out the Fast Five.  Bill Goldberg called and he wants his look–and act–back.  Johnson looks like Goldberg with a tan in this, and he and his crew of federal agents wear these gay-looking lycra t-shirts from Under Armour that look like the kind of shirt you see on bisexual men at a German Disco, circa 1993.  Please tell me DSS agents don’t really dress this way.

The movie begins with your usual heart pounding stuff.  Dominic Toretto (Diesel) is sent off to federal prison for many years after being convicted in court.  But former undercover agent Brian O’Conner (Walker) and Dom’s sister, Mia (Brewster) help his escape in a daring action-packed car scene, filled with crashes and the usual.  They escape to South America–to Rio–and seek some car stealing work to get by while they plot their escape to a country without an extradition treaty with the U.S.  But, soon, they are wanted by Rio’s brutal drug lord and The Rock’s team of U.S. agents.  They decide to do one last job that will make them the cash to live a nice life, and they import some of their best con artist friends from the States to Brazil to pull off the job.  But it’s nearly an impossible feat, and they have everyone on their tail.

Like I said, this movie has it all–stunts, action, car chases, suspense, and cool characters filled with bravado.  But it’s not for kids, and, in my mind, warrants an “R” rating for its violence, not the PG-13 it got.

Nonetheless, it’s a fun movie.  I liked it. Only one thing would make it better: if, for once, they went up against Islamic terrorists, instead of your usual, stereotypical Latino drug kingpins. That gets old.

One thing: make sure you sit through the initial credits at the end of the movie to see the “stinger” scene. Yes, there will be a “Fast Six.”


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Prom“: Nothing against this Disney movie, but it’s not aimed at my demographic or that of most of the readers of this site. It wasn’t for me. It’s for ‘tween kids. And, for them, it’s okay, though I did think one of the girls in it was slightly skanky for a kids’ movie. It’s a vapid, predictable movie, but there’s no sex or violence, just some making out.

The movie focuses on some high school students getting ready for prom. Some of them are seniors preparing for the last big hurrah and life afterward. And some are underclassmen. There is the class President who is miss goody two shoes and feuds with the class loner/tough guy. The class jock who is two-timing his long-time girlfriend with another girl, in a relationship that has some (unmentioned, but obvious) inter-racial overtones. There’s the Asian couple, with the girl fretting telling her boyfriend she isn’t going to Michigan with him, but to fashion design school in New York. And there are two underclass boys on the football team, whose relationship is jeopardized by a girl.

Ho hum, yawn. But like I said, I’m not the target market. It was okay, not my thing and I’m not sure my parents would have let me see this during my ‘tweens. (The misleading movie poster, above, is more like a “Sex and the City” poster than a tweens’ movie poster, but the movie isn’t at all like that.) This is a baby-sitter movie–something parents send their kids to see to have some time to themselves, not a great kids’ movie. Not even close.


Watch the trailer

* “The Princess of Montpensier [La Princesse de Montpensier]“: This wasn’t a bad period piece, but you’ve seen it before. A beautiful woman of noble stock (Melanie Thierry) is in love with her childhood friend and wants to marry him, but alas, her father marries her off to a prince, for political and economic advantage, and she is now a princess. While her husband is at war, she is taught and trained by his friend, a trusted and older knight, who is not allowed on the battlefield because he quit after murdering a pregnant woman.

Throughout, the princess pines for her childhood love and plots to meet up with and sleep with him. Her husband, the prince, is rightfully jealous and angry. Things don’t work out for her on any fronts, as they never do in these romantic tragedies.  Picking the object of lust over the better, loyal man never works out. But the woman isn’t likeable to begin with, so you really don’t care about her, and she basically gets what she deserves after wronging the two likeable characters, the knight and the prince.

The movie is in French, with English subtitles. I understand French, but if you don’t, you must work hard and fast to read the subtitles, which quickly disappear from the screen and are in an often hard-to-read white print.

Could have done without the weird scenes of the Princess’ wedding night, where she’s watched naked by her father, father-in-law, and a bevy of servants, as she goes into bed with the prince and onlookers wait to hear sex noises and bring out bloody sheets to show the new inlaws. But I guess that’s the uncivilized way they did it in those days. Hey, it’s Will & Kate’s royal ancestral cousins. Like the Royal Wedding, this is a chick flick, so guys . . . beware.


Watch the trailer . . .

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10 Responses

The Fast and Furious movies are high octane testosterone. The quintessential guys’ escapist movie. I enjoyed all of the ones I saw.

Not exactly big on the story but you won’t forget all the exciting action after the last reel ends.

NormanF on April 29, 2011 at 4:08 pm

don’t forget hot Israeli model Gal Gadot… whose character in Fast Five is briefly mentioned as having been trained by Mossad! 🙂

dee on April 29, 2011 at 6:26 pm

The fast and furious franchise is only for metrosexual males…..not real men. If a buddy of mine came up to me and said the words “bra” or “dude” while looking like he just left the jersey shore casting couch, I would whip his butt in a heartbeat.

This movie was targeted for chicks that like sensitive men with tans and idiots that think putting a spoiler and a loud muffler on a daewoo is cool.

A real man drives a truck and actually hits what he is aiming at.

Brads3wood on April 29, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    A real man doesn’t need to TELL everyone else he’s a real man. Have a nice day, caveman film critic.

    Joe on April 30, 2011 at 9:50 am

Went to the premiere on Thursday night with 4 girls all 11 years old and they loved it!
Audience was mostly that age to 14 and they were wild about the film. The kids in the audience laughed, clapped and just generally had a wonderful time.
Security was there checking purse contents, wanding, watching while we turned off our cell phones.

Chana on April 29, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I can usually suspend disbelief, but when the “Rock” fugitive-seeker character tells his Brazilian counterpart to “stay the fuck out of my way,” reality intervenes. Police power is based on local jurisdiction, everywhere. Doesn’t everyone know that?

Vlad the Jihadi Impaler on April 29, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Vlad, Dude: a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

The Rock’s character did just that.

Remember: it’s only a movie, not a documentary. :p

The Reverend Jacques on April 30, 2011 at 11:14 am

When are you going to review “Rio”? Then again, you never reviewed “The Princess And The Frog” either …

Gerald on April 30, 2011 at 7:11 pm

This movie was scary


Chandra rhymes on May 3, 2011 at 11:10 am

I found “Fast Five” excruciatingly tedious. It was all elaborate tinsel and prop with no soul. 125 million dollars was poured into furious action and effects, but there was not one compelling conservative idea or character under all this high-production gloss. Brads3wood who commented above was right to call this film “gay.” With due respect, Debbie, I don’t think the swollen biceps, sweat-glistened bodies, testosterone-fueled jousting and action stunts make this film all about “red-blooded males” as you opined. That would be like saying the Village People band was manly and red-blooded because of the police uniforms, Indian headdresses, nightsticks, and male-themed lyrics.

Liberal critics went gaga with glee when they saw this film. As opposed to the condemnatory 6% approval that “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1” received a week ago, this film attracted an impressive 80. Liberal critic Wesley Morris from the liberal Boston Globe gushed on National Public Radio that this film was the most “progressive film ever made” (article about this at Big Hollywood). But what about the scantily clad women, asked the NPR host—isn’t that sexist? No, because they are offset by all the scantily clad, bare-skinned men, came the reassuring answer. Morris went on further to detail what he described as the metro-racial subtext of the film, part of the metro-utopia he envisions for our future.

Conservative columnist Kyle Smith despised this film (with excellent logic, as usual); in contrast, liberal no-nothing Joe Morgenstern at the Wall Street Journal showered it with praise. A week or so ago Joe gave a drubbing to “Atlas Shrugged” but this week he chirps merrily that “Fast Five” is all about “family values. . . oh, but not the nuclear family.” Of course not, Joe; nuclear families are so passé, aren’t they? Instead, he writes that the film is all about “outlaws who care for each other.” Aw, isn’t that sweet? Just like when we were student radicals in the sixties and as a band of merry and united rebels we made our points with sit-down strikes, huh?

This film is all about breaking into banks, stealing from the rich, eluding the law, blowing up things and messing with the establishment. It’s the newest incarnation in a liberal-populist series of fantasies which includes “Bonnie and Clyde,” “The Wild Bunch,” and “Oceans 11” made by hard-left idealogues Arthur Penn, Peckinpah and Soderbergh. Nothing makes a liberal wet his pants with glee more than a fantasy about sticking it to “the man.” Paul Walker, the eye candy you enjoyed in the film, Debbie, casually discards his F.B.I. career in this script so that he can join the gang; his place as establishment cop is now taken by Dwayne Johnson who’s little more than a buffoonish caricature comparable to Jackie Gleason in the “Smokey and the Bandit” films.

Here in L.A., the long lines in the multiplex this last Sunday were packed with Hispanics eager to get in and see the show. Potential Latino ticket-buyers had been targeted already for months in the trailers with that long opening shot of the Brazilian statue of Christ the Redeemer (this same statue also featured prominently in the Rio trailers which targeted the same demographic). Mexican-Americans will become increasingly important to Hollywood moneymakers as the population-shift continues and our nation becomes more Latinized. Why would Hispanics be interested in a story about macho men who drive fast, souped-up cars? My guess is it’s because it’s part of the Mexican “macho” culture historically deriving from the tradition of Spanish conquistador. Whereas a typical WASP sees a car simply (and unimaginatively, some might say) as a practical transportation tool, Mexicans invest cars with more significance, viewing them as modern steeds and armor which enhance their male power. Expect sequels. This kind of soulless, metro-racial, metro-sexual, populist-liberal-fantasy with its Latino-cultural-value resonance has legs and is going places.

Burke on May 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm

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