Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 6/25/21

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Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
F9 (Theaters) – Getting everyone back together.
Werewolves Within (Theaters)
No Sudden Move (July 1 on HBO Max) – Soderbergh on HBO Max again.

TV
Central Park Season 2 Premiere (June 25 on Apple TV+) – Still catching up on Season 1, though.

Music
-Lucy Dacus, Home Video
-Doja Cat, Planet Her
-Modest Mouse, The Golden Casket
-Tyler, the Creator, Call Me If You Get Lost

‘F9’ Goes Full Looney Tunes

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F9: Explosion (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, John Cena, Sung Kang, Charlize Theron, Vinnie Bennett, Finn Cole, J.D. Pardo, Michael Rooker, Lucas Black, Shad Moss, Jason Tobin, Kurt Russell, Helen Mirren

Director: Justin Lin

Running Time: 145 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for The Usual Cascade of Absurd Action

Release Date: June 25, 2021 (Theaters)

F9 is easily the silliest of the Fast & Furious series, which is saying something for a franchise that already went up to 11 and beyond on the Over-the-Top Scale at least four movies ago. It’s not the level of ambition that’s different so much as the tenor. The main attraction of Fast Five through Furious 7 was how technically brilliant the stunts were; this time it’s all about how they could fit right in with something out of Bugs Bunny and company. Roman (Tyrese) and Tej (Ludacris) definitely have a Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner vibe. (Which one is which depends on any given moment.) Another apt comparison: Muppet Labs’ Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker. (Once again, the roles can flip-flop depending on the situation.)

So here’s the deal this time around: Dom has a brother that we’ve never seen before! Also, the gang goes to space! How did the former remain a secret for so long? Ehh, don’t worry about it, they’ll figure out a way. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense or not. Did you hear the part I just mentioned about space? This series, and this entry in particular, doesn’t really concern itself with what’s probable. Well, actually I kind of take that back, as it actually does concern itself with probability, but only in terms of playing lip service to the concept. To wit: there’s a running bit in which Roman, Tej, and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) ponder if they’re something akin to invincible superheroes. The movie doesn’t actually say that they are, but it doesn’t not say that either.

What’s also making me feel good with F9 is the Tokyo Drift reunion. What had previously seemed like the ugly stepchild in the franchise and what I had originally pegged as a potential so-bad-it’s-good contender has instead evolved into something resembling a cult classic full of hidden treasures. Sung Kang has already returned as Han multiple times, and the trailer has already spoiled that he’s back from the dead for this go-round. But on top of that, we’ve also got Lucas Black, Jason Tobin, and Shad “Bow Wow” Moss back in action. They’re not drifting their rides this time around, but they are more explosive than ever. Remember that Muppet Labs comparison. This is a trio of Bunsen Honeydews right here. Also of note: with appearances by Frog and Robopine, I believe this is the first Fast & Furious movie to feature two (2) Masked Singer alums.

I haven’t talked too much about John Cena showing up and wreaking havoc as Dom’s long-lost brother Jakob, or Jordana Brewster as their sister Mia getting back in the swing of things after skipping the last chapter, even though that is of course the main storyline. And well, that’s because, we all know how this story goes: something threatens the stability of the family, and then crazy stunts are pulled off all over the globe in the name of strengthening the family’s core and opening up that family to new members. I don’t worry too much about the villainy, because nobody stays a villain for very long in this universe. As long as there are enough silly shenanigans going on in the margins – and in the most important moments – then we’re good to go.

F9 is Recommended If You Like: Fast Five, Tokyo Drift, Violent kid-friendly cartoons

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Electromagnets