Monday, March 30, 2009

The Quick and the Slightly Miffed

I saw an advertisement for an upcoming movie about fast cars, street racing, and Vin Diesel. It's called "The Fast and the Furious". Haven't I... seen this movie before? I don't mean that in a ironic way, playing on the fact that there were two sequels to "The Fast and the Furious" that were basically the same movie. I'm being honest: haven't they already released "The Fast and the Furious" back when I was in Columbia?

Turns out I'm wrong. Sort of.

In 2001, they did release a movie called "The Fast and the Furious" with Vin Diesel. Then came two sequels. The second entry was called "2 Fast 2 Furious". It was movie number 2, in case you missed it. The working title for that movie was "The Fast and the Furious 2". The third movie of the "quadrilogy" (if said films can be called that) was "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift". No numbers whatsoever? The working title for this film was "The Fast and the Furious 3".

Now, in 2009 comes the next entry, which has the four main lead actors from the first movie. This new film is called "Fast and Furious". I can't think of another film (or the title of anything, really) that produced a sequential product and titled it by simply removing the definite articles. Imagine if "The Lord of the Rings" went "The Fellowship of the Ring", "2 Towers 2 Many", and "Fellowship of Ring". Perhaps it would have attracted a different audience.

This probably plays havoc in countries that have integrated definite articles or lack the proclivity English has for making nouns into verbs and vice versa (see the verb "to gift" or the noun "a happiness"). And behold: in Brazil, the original movie was released as "Velozes E Furiosos", which uses nouns and translates as "The Fast and the Furious". The new "Fast and Furious" is being released in Brazil as "Velozes E Furiosos 4", as you might expect. But in Portugal (where they also speak Portuguese), the new film is being released as "Velozes & Furiosos", with no number and the '&.' That's because in Portugal, the original movie was released as "Velocidade Furiosa", which basically translates as "Fast and Furious". Confused?

I think they missed a big teaching opportunity in the title of this, their fourth movie. They should have called it "Where4 Fast, Where4 Furious?" Vin Diesel plays Allegriano, a tough-talking Shakespearean actor about to play Hamlet. Paul Walker (the other lead) plays Presstissiventi, his streetwise driver with a passion for literature. They have to tear through the city in cars to make it to a festival, and by the end they realize that Allegriano can drive pretty well and Presstissiventi plays a good Polonious. Turns out the guy playing "Osric" is not only the leader of the rival street racing gang, he's the understudy for Hamlet, and it's HIM whose been trying to thwart Allegriano's arrival at the festival. But he dies impaled on a poisoned sword, which is called culture.

See, this stuff just writes itself!


  1. only you would turn poorly thought out titles of a less than stellar movie franchise into a Shakespearian tragedy.

    As always, I'm impressed.

  2. I don't know why, but I just had tragedy on the brain when I was thinking about these movies...