‘Fast X’ Asks If This Can Really Last Forever


Family (CREDIT: Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Momoa, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Sung Kang, Nathalie Emmanuel, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Brie Larson, Alan Ritchson, Jason Statham, Daniela Melchior, Leo Abelo Perry, Scott Eastwood, Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, Rita Moreno

Director: Louis Leterrier

Running Time: 141 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Flying Cars and Bullets

Release Date: May 19, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: We’re ten* films deep now in the Fast & Furious franchise (eleven if you count the spinoff), and things are getting pretty X-treme! Of course, you might well reasonably note that extremity was this series’ m.o. from the very beginning. But this is the first time that an “X” actually managed to sneak its way into the title. And that’s not the only unique bit of business. Usually these movies are pretty self-contained, and the plot is generally besides the point, but Fast X calls back directly to a previous adventure. Luckily for anyone who needs a refresher, there are plenty of flashbacks to Fast Five, when Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew pulled off a heist in Brazil against drug lord Hernan Reyes. Now Hernan’s eccentric and sadistic son Dante (Jason Momoa) is out for revenge. He prefers to make his victims suffer, and for someone who values family as much as Dom, there are innumerable ways to poke at that nerve.


’80 for Brady’ Could… Go… All… The… Way!

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Go for 2. (CREDIT: Paramount Pictures)

Starring: Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, Sally Field, Tom Brady, Billy Porter, Rob Corddry, Alex Moffat, Guy Fieri, Harry Hamlin, Bob Balaban, Glynn Turman, Sara Gilbert, Jimmy O. Yang, Ron Funches, Matt Lauria

Director: Kyle Marvin

Running Time: 98 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Saucy Seniors and One Signature F-Bomb

Release Date: February 3, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: There’s a reason why the Super Bowl MVP says “I’m going to Disney World!” and not the other way around. The NFL championship game and Mickey Mouse’s theme park complex are both eternally popular, but the former tends to be a far more expensive proposition for most potential attendees. But some people refuse to back down from steep odds, even if society insists they’re better off just staying home. In the based-on-a-true-story 80 for Brady, four longtime friends and New England Patriots superfans decide that the 2017 big game is their last best chance to see their hero quarterback in person, so they get up and make their way down to Houston. Here’s the tale of the tape for the starting lineup: ringleader Lou (Lily Tomlin), a cancer survivor who knows a thing or two about beating the odds; recently divorced Trish (Jane Fonda), who’s made a name for herself with her Rob Gronkowski-based fan fiction; recently widowed Maura (Rita Moreno), who’s basically the star of the local retirement home; and statistics-obsessed Betty (Sally Field), who could really use a break from her adorable but needy husband (Bob Balaban).

What Made an Impression?: Circa 2017, I believed that Tom Brady was, if not quite a cheater, still all too willing to bend the rules as far as they could go in his favor. Now in 2023, I think he should retire for the sake of his family. So while it can be thrilling to witness record-setting athletic excellence, I’m not exactly rooting for him to keep adding to his long list of accomplishments. In other words, I’m not exactly the ideal viewer for a movie in which Tom Brady plays himself and all the main characters treat him as the most lovable quarterback ever.

But when the movie in question stars these four ladies, the formula is a little different. If the promise of a Tomlin-Fonda-Moreno-Field roster has your heart aflutter, then you’ll be glad to know that 80 for Brady delivers a touchdown or four. And you don’t need to be a fan of football or the Patriots in particular to appreciate it. In fact, it’s probably better if you aren’t, so that you don’t have to fight through any preconceived biases.

This is the sort of movie that is filled with scene after scene that’ll make you object, “There’s no way it could possibly work that way,” while also forcing you to concede, “But I don’t care! Everyone’s having too much fun!” This is a silly adventure where everything works out a little too perfectly, but because of the camaraderie on display, you’re all too happy to allow it.

80 for Brady is Recommended If You Like: Septuagenarian, Octogenarian, and Nonagenarian Queens

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Super Bowls

I Saw ‘West Side Story’ (2021) a Few Days After New Year’s and Now I’m Going to Write About It

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West Side Story (CREDIT: Ramona Rosales/© 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved)

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Rita Moreno, Brian d’Arcy James, Corey Stoll

Director: Steven Spielberg

Running Time: 156 Minutes

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: December 10, 2021 (Theaters)

Did West Side Story (2021) make me want to have my own West Side Story? It wouldn’t be too hard! Considering my personal history, it would probably take place at the AMC Lincoln Square, even though that’s not the theater where I saw this particular movie. (I opted for the Brooklyn Alamo Drafthouse instead.)

I could certainly see myself suddenly falling for some fellow moviegoer as I walk to my seat, and then we dance through the lobby. But I don’t think I would kill her brother. I just don’t have it in me! Maybe we could find some replacement for that part.

Anyhow, I liked the part when Tony and Maria were talking on the subway the most. I may be skeptical of love at first sight, but I very much believe in the power of an initial spark leading to conversations about the practical steps needed to advance a relationship. If there had been more of that in this story, maybe there would have been less death!

Grade: I Felt Pretty, Insofar as I Feel Pretty While Being Fully Attentive During a Movie That I’m Enjoying

‘Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It’ is Just a Documentary That Decided to Be About Rita Moreno

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CREDIT: Roadside Attractions

Starring: Rita Moreno, and Friends

Director: Mariem Pérez Riera

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Casual Hollywood Cruelty

Release Date: June 18, 2021 (Theaters)

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It is your typical celebrity biography documentary, though the subject is far from your typical celebrity. She was the third person ever to EGOT, after all! So obviously respect must be paid. We get to know the skeleton of her story via interviews with the 89-year-old living legend herself, as well as some of her closest friends and collaborators. She had struggles early in her life, as she dropped out of school at 15 and became the breadwinner for her family. She also had struggles throughout her career, as she endured sexism and harassment and navigated Hollywood’s notorious habit of racism by employing what she refers to as the “Universal Ethnic Accent.” She also had some romantic encounters that came and went along the way (Marlon Brando comes up a fair bit), and there’s that one project that looms large above them all (West Side Story, of course). Once again, this is typical celeb profile fodder through and through, but it’s worth paying attention to, because Moreno has endured, clear-headed and still full of energy.

I believe that all movies are best experienced on the big screen, even something as straightforward as Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It. Alas, I did not see this particular movie in a theater (studios are back in the swing of holding in-person press screenings, though not quite at the pre-pandemic rate), and while I wish I had, the Sunday evening that it spent on my television felt appropriate. This very much feels like the sort of in-depth human-interest reporting that you would see on PBS on CBS that tends to air on the first day of the week. If someone told me that this was a series of about ten separate CBS Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes features stitched together to form one feature-length piece, I wouldn’t be surprised, both in the sense that it has the vibe of those shows and because it’s perfectly believable that Moreno would be covered that often on the same program. So if you’re a big Rita Moreno fan and you have the opportunity to make it out to the theater, I recommend it, but if you prefer waiting until you can lounge at home and summon her up on your TV, that’s not a bad option either.

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It is Recommended If You Like: Rita Moreno herself of course, Celebrity features on newsmagazine shows

Grade: 3 out of 5 EGOTs