Now Playing: 2 Fast 2 Furious

Posted: Monday, June 09, 2003

The first Fast and the Furious movie was like guy candy... fast cars, skimpily dressed women, and loud rock music. It had very few redeeming values, but it did present a relatively new and unique attack on the male marketing block. The sequel, the oh so creatively titled 2 Fast 2 Furious, holds to the formula advanced by its predecessor, but misses all the cache. It suddenly feels old hat, played, and quickly loses all momentum. It's almost as if they spent all their time fixing up the body, but completely forgot the engine.

Paul Walker returns as Brian O'Conner, though this time around he is on the other side of the law. Having lost his badge as a result of letting Vin Diesel go at the end of F&F 1, Brian has become a part of the underground society he was originally tasked with busting up. He is a street racer (ooooohhh). When the FBI forces him back on the job, driving undercover for a violent drug lord, Brian brings along his old pal Roman, an ex-con and expert driver. From there on it's high octane, super charged, roller coaster excitement that makes no sense whatsoever. Not even residual sense. Why would a drug dealer who wants to avoid police attention hire the flashiest, most reckless drivers around? Oh well. There are worse problems a movie can have.

It's really no surprise that this movie is senseless. It's a sequel to a senseless movie, so to expect more than that would be folly. Poor acting, poor writing, and a mindless plot surrounding adequate special effects and a few thrilling moments are about all you're gonna get, but most people know that going in, so what's the big deal. My complaint comes from different angle and encompasses far more than just this film. 2 Fast is rated PG-13. Of course it is, you say. Who else really wants to see this movie? And yet, this film is potentially more damaging than a whole host of more restrictively rated movies I can think of. Watching a movie where only the coolest people can drive with reckless abandon, where only the idiots and the craven wear their seatbelts, all I can think about are all those thirteen and fourteen-year-olds that are out taking their driving tests this summer, eager to get out on the road and try what they've seen on screen. I know, I know, I sound like an old man, but when you think about how seductive these movies are to kids, it's truly frightening. And this is different from the umpteen million car chases we've seen in movies before this. Generally, car chases are set up where the good guys are chasing the bad guys, the assumption being that these are not preferable ways to drive. Not so anymore... the implication here is that if you don't exceed 120 on the freeway, you're not doing it right. There's foul language, several relatively horrible deaths, and a ton of sexual innuendo, and yet it is rated PG-13. Now, as I understand it, the MPAA, the ratings board, is tasked with protecting children from all that harmful content spewing forth from Hollywood. Nauseatingly presumptuous as that mission is, I can understand that most parents don't have the time to fully investigate everything their kids watch. In order to determine if the family values they want instilled are present, these parents have put their trust in the MPAA, an association that has gleefully sold that trust all in the name of marketing. As long as a movie avoids a few tell-tale red flags, use of the F-word, for example, it's pretty much a sure thing they are going to get the rating they want. No one ever stops to question whether it's more damaging for children to hear people say certain words, or for them to watch dozens of violent deaths, as they did in The Scorpion King, another PG-13 movie.

I would like to suggest that the MPAA reevaluate not only the types of ratings they offer, but their mission as well. How hard would it be to rate films on a responsibility-based scale? Such a rating could be invaluable to parents who currently are becoming unknowing dupes in the Hollywood marketing machine. A movie like 2 Fast 2 Furious may seem like innocuous fun... dumb, yet harmless. The PG-13 rating says just that. The rating gives no hint that the movie is actually a lowest common denominator mess jam-packed with an easy, great tasting, and ultimately dangerous message: there are no consequences. 2 Fast? Maybe. 2 Furious? Not yet, but parents will wake up eventually. Grade: Movie, C- Rating, F.

2 Fast 2 Furious is rated PG-13 for language, violence, irresponsible activity.

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