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'Fast and Furious': Amusing Eye Candy


The animated film Cars is not the only automotive movie tearing up screens this summer. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift roared into theaters over the weekend. Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan says this new flick is running on a different track.

KENNETH TURAN reporting:

Think of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift as a high-energy cartoon about fast cars and the boys who love them. Unlike Pixar's Cars, this one has real actors, sort of. It's an unintentionally amusing movie, intended for those infatuated with gleaming metal and preening women.

(Soundbite of movie “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”)

Unidentified Speaker: Go!

(Soundbite of roaring engine)

(Soundbite of squealing tires)

TURAN: Tokyo Drift is the story of an American hot-rodder who ends up in Japan and has to learn a new style of racing. It's a film in love with all things automotive to an extent which might be called - forgive me - carnographic.

A film where the seven primary cars have more personality than the characters who drive them.

But you always hurt the one you love, especially in movies like this. And these cars, outfitted with tires that do more squealing than a roomful of Justin Timberlake fans, do take quite a beating.

(Soundbite of movie “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”)

(Soundbite of squealing tires)

(Soundbite of roaring engine)

TURAN: According to the press material, Tokyo Drift's chases and races destroyed more than 80 vehicles. The picture ends with a stern reminder that, quote, "the motor vehicle action sequences depicted in this film are dangerous," just in case you were wondering.

Not quite so banged up are the film's innumerable young Japanese women in tiny miniskirts who masochistically flock to young men who lust mainly after cars. There are so many women, there must have been an eye-candy casting director working full-time to corral this particular coalition of the willing.

(Soundbite of movie “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”)

Unidentified Speaker #1: All these girls (unintelligible).

Unidentified Speaker #2: (Unintelligible) models?

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Speaker #2: Check it out. See, Tokyo is the fashion capital on this side of the planet. Right? Now, imagine you been posing all day. That's a lot of hard work. Not only do you get tired, but on top of that, you want to have a little fun, but you can't because you don't even know nobody in town.

(Soundbite of music)

TURAN: Justin Lin, a Sundance alumnus, who's gone on to a mainstream career, was the perfect choice to direct Tokyo Drift. His ability to treat an overly familiar tale with complete seriousness is just what this picture needs to be all that it can be: a film so preposterous, it's kind of enjoyable.

Naturally, there's a big race at the end of this third installment of The Fast and the Furious saga, and it involves a lot of drifting, both morally and automotively. The film's savvy producer has taken to calling Tokyo Drift a lifestyle movie. But it depicts a way of life so fantastical, no one could possibly live it for real; that's why we have the movies.

INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan, a film critic for MORNING EDITION and The Los Angeles Times.

Well, when you look at the box office numbers over the weekend, you had something of a race between real cars and animated cars. Cars, the animated movie, earned more than $30 million during its second weekend in theaters. And The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift earned less; it was third, behind the comedy Nacho Libre.

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kenneth Turan
Kenneth Turan is the film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition, as well as the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. He has been a staff writer for the Washington Post and TV Guide, and served as the Times' book review editor.