For a child, there were perhaps few things that could more quickly pacify me than a Hal Needham flick: boisterous, juvenile, and punctuated with just enough fuel-injected frivolity, my brain could be numbed into a sense of bombastic bliss.
Cannonball Run, Hooper, Smokey and the Bandit, (hell, even Stroker Ace had multiple screenings in my home when it reached pay cable) all had a sense of levity, camaraderie, and brotherhood that have helped these films have some sort of longevity. One wishes to just take Vin Diesel aside, show him some old Dom DeLuise footage and say, “Hey, lighten up, big fella! Just let out a hearty laugh like this guy!” Then give him a noogie on his massive bald head and hope that, perhaps just once, he could bring something more to this increasingly dull and repetitive franchise.
Diesel joins the original cast members as they return to the scene of their cinematic crime, which “streamlines” the series by dropping the articles out of the title to become just Fast and Furious. Ironically, the leads are now looking for career resuscitation from a series in which all of them eventually dropped out of to pursue personal box office glory. You can see for yourself how well that went.
I understand the appeal of car porn, even as I type this, Quentin Tarantino’s orgasm of octane, Death Proof, plays in the background.
The original was not without its guilty pleasures, in a sort of “Point Break with Pistons” kind of way, combining dripping machismo and dime-store philosophy. But it was only made bearable in the same way Roadhouse has come to be: late night, on cable, with friends, and perhaps while imbibing with a beverage of choice.
But in this fourth lap around the track, things are about as exciting watching someone else play Need for Speed on Xbox without ever lending you the controls.