What’s this? Working Title on a Wednesday? Look, we’ve got a lot going on, people… but yeah… here you go. This week Will Leschber plays with NOS and Nostalgia.
I don’t fully understand how it happened. And I know after I say this, I’ll have to turn in my creative, artistic, critical integrity card…but I enjoyed the hell out of seeing Furious 7. I know I’m not the only one, considering the box office returns and the positive critical response. I used to rail against this trash. Street-racing? Duuuuumb. Inflated earnest machismo?! Pass. I’m good on that.
I felt the first films in the series were flat, flashy, empty and bolstered by style over substance and bad acting to boot. When The Fast and the Furious came out in June of 2001, I had just completed my first year of college studying theater, of course. So I wasn’t really interested in NOS-powered street-racing cars and their criminal counterparts. I couldn’t been seen enjoying this lazy filmmaking. And I didn’t for like 5 films. Then something happened. A NOS switch was flipped and the hollow style of this franchise became a playful aspect that informed the substance. That’s a wordy way to say that as the franchise became aware of itself, it gained depth. It’s something that know what it is and does its job. Just like any professional: Theater or International Super Human, Car-Flying Do-Gooder.
It’s kind of odd how something as originally vapid as The Fast and the Furious can come to be an instrument of such strong NOS-talgia. As the franchise remarks on (and handles beautifully) the passing of Paul Walker, it also remind general audiences how much has passed in the near 14 years since the original. Nothing helps remind like a new chapter in an old book.
Below is the list you never knew you always wanted:
The bottom 7 reasons why Furious 7 is just like Bay Area Theater
#7- It’s not. (But it’s fun to reach for internet lists…COME ON!)
#6- Both know how to play with genre: Is it drama? Is it action? Is it romance? Is it bromance? Is it melodrama? It’s it self referential parody while somehow ridiculously, hugely entertaining? Has it now matured into all of these things at once? Yeah.
#5- It’s a bro’s club. I’m looking at you, PianoFight. But the good news is the longer the franchise goes on, the better the action scenes get for the awesome female characters. (I’m looking at you, Michelle Rodriguez.)
#4- Often we think we are saving the world and in reality we are just being self-indulgent and having fun being ridiculous. If you don’t know of any instance where this has happened in your creative life, look to your left, find the first theater person and ask them if their new play is important. I bet it is really really really important.
#3- It’s a drag race.
#2- General audiences agree: these are better when seen in large groups and or intoxicated.
#1- It’s all about family. As ridiculous as it sounds, part of the reason the Fast & the Furious franchise has continued and is more successful than ever, is because we’ve grown to care for the characters. That should go without saying for any long-running franchise. Yes, the action set pieces are well executed. And, sure, we may have shown up for the scantily clad drag-race, but, hey, we stayed because of the personal connections we made along the way.
After we were done living life a quarter-mile at a time, we realized that the connections we make and the bonds we forge are what keep us going when things get hard. My favorite part of being apart of the San Francisco indie theater scene is just that: being a part of a larger community. At times it feels like a dysfunctional family, but at times it reminds us how the small acts of kindness and the large acts of loyalty makes you feel like you are in the arms of family.