Yesterday, the funniest comedy of the year was whatever news channel was broadcasting Sean Spicer and Anthony ‘the Mooch’ Scaramucci sound bites. These two comedy giants have had me laughing harder than any 2017 comedy thus far.
Then I rented Fate of the Furious on the Google Play Store.
Fate of the Furious is an achievement in absurdist comedy like no other; it easily takes the cake for Best 8th Movie in a Franchise Released in 2017. Had Vin Diesel been sipping a cappuccino, I would have thought I was watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
I did not know this was a comedy going in, and in fairness that’s probably because I haven’t seen Fast and Furious one, two, three, four, or six. I think the fifth one was on TV once, and who didn’t see the seventh after Paul Walker’s death? I have a soul, dammit!
Fate opens with Vin Diesel settling an argument with a spontaneous street race. In this universe, one takes the high road (CAR PUNS!) by breaking traffic traffic laws and destroying property. This earns the respect of your adversaries and myself. Then, Charlize Theron shows up, and PLOT TWIST: she’s a villain. In this air tight script, she lures Vin Diesel right to her by (you guessed it) pretending to have car trouble. The original script for this scene, I imagine, went something like this:
Vin: Looks like you need help. Did your check-engine light turn on? Charlize: You’re a check-engine light. Vin: How dare you say that about my family. Me love family. End Scene.
Despite this brief dialogue being remarkably on-theme, the writing team decided to have Charlize blackmail Vin Diesel with an Instagram photo. Or maybe it was a Snap because it disappeared before she could show the audience. Either way, this undisclosed MacGuffin must have been good because all of a sudden we’re off to the races (CAR PUNS!). There are quick cuts of doors slamming, engines revving, gas pedals flooring, and speedometers climbing. It’s like Baby Driver, but for only like 15 seconds at a time.
In the middle of this madness is Dwayne, the Rock, Johnson coaching soccer. At one point he says ‘manny pedi’ to a bunch of pre-teen girls, and then smiles. God, the Rock is just so darn likable. He’s both tough and adorable. I’ll just say what we’re all thinking: I smell a Rock/Obama presidential ticket. Ba-Rock Obama 2020!
Cut scene. The Rock is in a prison. What happened?!?! Somebody must have tampered with the air tight script. It doesn’t matter though, because the Rock starts a prison riot by punching a wall and escapes in the chaos. Jason Statham is there to provide a little will-they-won’t-they bromantic tension between him and the Rock. Maybe they’ll finally tie the knot in the 9th or 10th movie. Where else can this franchise really go, but a gay art house action buddy comedy with a $300M pyrotechnics budget?
Cut scene again. Charlize Theron hacks all the cars in Manhattan to chase down an important foreign diplomat in possession of the nuclear codes. At the push of a button, thousands of cars are remotely turned on and drive themselves recklessly through red lights and lemonade stands. It’s the stuff of nightmares for Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who, in an unprecedented move, made the first ever anti-product placement payment to Universal to ensure no Tesla’s would be featured in the devastating car hacking sequence.
As if this wasn’t enough movie already, my personal favorite scene is still to come. Aboard an airplane, Jason Statham kills five thugs while holding a baby listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas music on Beats by Dre headphones that Statham just happened to have in his pocket. It’s as if the producers saw Jason Statham’s hysterical monologues from Spy and said, “We can beat that.”
And beat it they have. As far as I’m concerned, Fate of the Furious has cemented itself in comedy history. It’s so bad it’s good, so funny it’s serious, and most importantly, so fast it’s furious. To the makers of the 9th installment in this award-worthy franchise, I have just one word: godspeed.