The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.
ITEM NUMBER ONE— It’s madness, really
We have discussed this all before on more than one occasion, but it’s relevant again this week and there are very few things I enjoy discussing more, so here we go again. The facts are not in dispute. The Fast & Furious franchise is an objectively chaotic and silly endeavor. They started out stealing DVD players from truckers and now they are launching people into outer space. Felonious street racers work for a secretive government agency that has a bottomless budget to fight cyberterrorists with braids and bowl cuts. John Cena plays Vin Diesel’s secret evil brother. It’s basically like if you gave a vat of LSD-infused protein shakes and $500 million to a daytime soap opera and told them to really explore the limits of their imagination. I love it very much.
But somehow, against truly staggering odds, the actual bonkers action of the franchise might not even be the most chaotic thing about it. That honor, I contend, might go to the title structure of the now 10-film series. I am going to take you on a short ride here. A quarter-mile ride, if you will. We’re going to grapple with letters and numbers and punctuation and Roman numerals. And puns. It’s a lot. As it should be. Here we go. Let’s start at the beginning.
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Straightforward. Simple. Effective. Explains what we’re looking at here. There is speed and anger and it’s all laid out right there in the title. No problems here.
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Okay. Okay. I get what we’re shooting for on this one. Numbers in place of words was kind of a thing for a while, and it’s cute because it’s the second film and we got some twos tossed around liberally in there. Again, it’s fine. It’s silly and unnecessary and kind of funny in hindsight, but it’s fine. The real problems are coming, though, some of them caused by the decisions made here. A butterfly flaps its wings. Or revs its engine. Or both. I don’t know. Leave me alone.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
We return to the original title structure, with the “The” out front and the “and” spelled out, but now we add a colon and a “Tokyo Drift.” This is also fine, in part because there’s still an attempt at uniformity — getting back to basics — and in part because just about any movie can be improved by hundreds of percent by adding a “: Tokyo Drift” to the end of its title. Here, look
Casablanca: Tokyo Drift
The Godfather: Tokyo Drift
Alien: Tokyo Drift
Air Bud: Tokyo Drift
Gladiator: Tokyo Drift
Sex and the City: Tokyo Drift
And so on. This is a fun game to play. Get some friends together and get goofy with it this weekend. But, I regret to inform you, this is where things start getting weird.
Fast & Furious (2009)
- No number in the title to let you know where this falls in the franchise
- Incredibly similar to the title structure of the first movie, but now without either “the” and with an ampersand in the middle
- Left Fast & 4ious right there on the table even though the precedent had been set in the second movie
I’m getting upset.
Fast Five (2011)
Okay. We’re back. Kind of. We are kind of back. We’ve got the actual number of the film in the title. We are streamlining and simplifying. We have a structure we can come back to going forward. Fast Six, Fast Seven, and so on. We can build from this. The key is to take these lessons and remember them for the n-…
Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Dammit. Back to the bullet points:
- The ampersand is back
- “Furious” is back
- We swapped from spelling out the numbers to just using the number itself
Furious 7 (2015)
Here we go:
- Ampersand gone again
- We have a similar title structure to Fast Five, except now we’re using the other word from the original title and we’re not spelling out the number anymore
- The wheels are coming off of this thing entirely
I don’t see how it can possibly g-
The Fate of the Furious (2017)
Jesus Christ, Vin. Look:
- We are introducing a whole new title structure after dancing between various uses of “fast” and “furious” and a number
- The whole thing is based on a pun, with this being the eighth movie and “fate” kind of looking like “F8”
- They left F8 of the Furious right there on the table even though it was sitting straight up and screaming at them
You cannot possibly imagine how angry this makes me.
Well, I suppose I respect that they threw in the towel here. No words, no puns, no ampersands. Just one letter and one number. It’s kind of a power move, in a way, like they’re saying, “We don’t even need a word in this one. You guys know what we’re doing.” I can respect it. I think. I also like that it’s the shortest and most simple title in the franchise and it’s a movie where Ludacris and Tyrese go to space in a Pontiac. That’s funny. We are doing better.
Fast X (2023)
For the love of God. Okay:
- We are now introducing Roman numerals as if spelling out some numbers and not spelling out others was not confusing enough
- “Fast” is back as the only word in the title for the first time since Fast Five, over 10 years earlier
- They had Fas10 Your Seatbelts right there staring them in the face and they chose to ignore it
There’s still time to fix this. Please. For me. Either retroactively re-title these to create some order or get even weirder to embrace the chaos fully. Come on. Vin.
I am trying to help you, buddy.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — I cannot stop listening to the music from The Flight Attendant
The Flight Attendant is back. This is good news because, as we’ve discussed a few times now, The Flight Attendant was a freaking blast in its first season, just a blast of fizzy and fun murder energy with Kaley Cuoco drinking her way through an international investigation. The second season is somehow even wilder. She’s working with the CIA now! That’s kind of a spoiler, I guess, especially if you haven’t seen the first season, but I promise you won’t see when or how it comes up anyway. Good show.
Another good thing about the show: the music. The whole thing is littered with bouncy drums and tinkly pianos and the soundtrack sets the tone perfectly. This is doubly true of the theme music that plays at the beginning, which I have posted up there. It is so much fun, with its various dinky bonks and plunky plonks bopping around. It matches the energy of the show so well. It’s also fun to plop onto a random playlist you put on while you’re driving around. I know this because I did it a couple weeks ago. Every time it comes on I feel like I’m on a little secret mission, even if I’m just going to, like, Wawa. I like to feel mysterious. I might order a hoagie with my sunglasses on.
It’s important to have fun. I think that’s my point in all of this, to the extent I have one.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Finally, a movie for me
— Jaythechou (@jaythechou) April 20, 2022
This is a clip from the movie The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. It looks almost exactly like a clip to promote a movie that existed to make me happy. Like, me, personally, Brian, in a way that it almost doesn’t matter if anyone else like this movie. I support and respect this a lot. More movies should do this. Putting a Muppet in the Fast & Furious movies would be a nice start. I mean, look at the description of this sucker.
Unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, actor Nick Cage accepts a $1 million offer to attend a wealthy fan’s birthday party. Things take a wildly unexpected turn when a CIA operative recruits Cage for an unusual mission. Taking on the role of a lifetime, he soon finds himself channeling his most iconic and beloved characters to save himself and his loved ones.
It’s such a good premise and such a blessing that Cage actually agreed to make it. Imagine if you had this idea and wrote it all out and he just wasn’t interested. It doesn’t work the same with any other actor, really. Cage is one of one here. I love that he’s leaning into it. I love that he’s having fun with it. I love that he’s going on talk shows again and being as weird and charming as he can possibly be. He’s a fascinating man. How many people have ever had to return a stolen dinosaur skull to the Mongolian government, you know?
Anyway, the other cool thing about this clip, besides the Cage of it all and the thing where it correctly identifies Paddington 2 as a cinematic masterpiece, is that they gave it directly to this guy to tweet out. You know about this guy, right? He’s been photoshopping Paddington into movies and TV shows every day for over a year now. It’s really just lovely. Here’s a recent one, for example.
— Jaythechou (@jaythechou) April 6, 2022
To recap, I managed to shove all of the following things into this section:
- Paddington 2
- The thing about Nicolas Cage returning a stolen dinosaur skull to the Mongolian government
- John Wick
I remain relentlessly on-brand. I feel okay about it.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — This is actually from last week but I was off then and didn’t get to shout about it, so, like, here we are
I am just going to assume we all know about the Canadian Maple Syrup Heist. It will upset me a lot if you don’t already know about it. It was all over the news a few years ago. Vanity Fair did a whole longread on it. Netflix devoted an episode of a docuseries to it. I wrote about it so much, in part because it delighted me and in part because there were tons of dudes in it like the one in the screencap up there, which also delighted me. If I had known “maple syrup lawyer” was an option in life, I might actually be using my law degree. Probably not. But maybe.
Anyway, I bring this all up again for two reasons: One, because I really like bringing it up; and two, because last week Amazon announced that they are making a television series inspired by it.
The Fargo-ish story centers on Ruth Clarke, “a tough, supremely competent middle-aged Canadian maple syrup farmer who’s had it with being hemmed in by the polite, bureaucratic conventions native to her country’s identity. Especially now that that very bureaucracy is threatening to take away everything she loves: Her farm, her comatose husband, and her right to manifest destiny. With the help of Remy Bouchard, a pint-sized local blockhead and an aging Mike Byrne, a low-level mobster, Ruth changes her fate—and transforms the future of her community with the theft of millions of dollars’ worth of maple syrup.”
This is great. We need fewer shows about all the tech scammers of the world and more shows about goofballs stealing millions of dollars worth of condiments. I am serious about this. Listen to me. LISTEN TO ME. Ocean’s Eleven but with idiots. That’s a show. That’s kind of this show. It’s a good start.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Rest in peace, king
Robert Morse passed away this week. That’s a bummer, mostly, because Robert Morse was cool. Most of us knew him as Bert Cooper from Mad Men, the eccentric head of the agency who had wise words for everyone and erotic tentacle art in his office. That scene up there is probably the best-known one involving his character, with good reason. Look at it. Watch it now. It’s wonderful.
It was also a good excuse for him to show off his chops. The man was super talented. Go read the tribute The Hollywood Reporter put up right after his death. Look at this guy.
Morse became a show business sensation with his turn as the ambitious J. Pierrepont Finch, who goes from New York window washer to chairman of the board of the World Wide Wicket Co. in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, based on Shepherd Mead’s best-selling book.
The show, which debuted in October 1961 and ran for more than 1,400 performances through March 1965, collected seven Tonys as well as the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, with Morse singled out for best actor in a musical.
That’s cool. The dude was at it for like 60 years, singing and dancing and bringing joy to people from the stage or on a screen. You could do a whole lot worse in a lifetime. You couldn’t do a whole lot better, to be perfectly honest.
Also, and this is admittedly a weird transition but I’ve watched that clip up there about 40 times this week and it’s on my mind again, Mad Men was such a weird show sometimes. In the best way. But it was. I think that gets lost in its legacy sometimes, buried under images of dudes in suits drinking liquor at work. Peggy stabbed someone with a long pokey stick. Pete fell down the stairs. There was a whole episode about Roger taking LSD. There was borderline slapstick comedy in there. It was a weird and ambitious show, man.
Also, sometimes there was singing and dancing, probably because, like, if you have an all-time great song and dance man hanging around on the set, why not? There are worse reasons to do cool stuff. Rest In Peace, king.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.
Brian, I know how much you love heists, because I’ve been on Twitter for at least five minutes. I believe that there aren’t enough heist movies, and not nearly enough good ones. So, I propose to you the following idea that might make us fabulously wealthy:
THE HEIST CINEMATIC UNIVERSE
Hollywood likes serialized storytelling, ensemble casts and post-credit sequences. Now, the Dark Universe immediately failed, and took away the chance to see what unhinged movies were waiting down the line, so we’re going to take that chance away- every one of these movies is released in the same calendar year. They’re all released on holidays (we’re sticking to fun holidays, because stealing stuff on, like, Memorial Day seems like the wrong tone), leading to a finale you’ll be pumped about. Start with:
NEW YEAR’S DAY of whatever year: During the Rose Bowl, a teaser drops for the first film, releasing on…
ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery reprise their roles as The Boondock Saints. In order to pull of the heist of a lifetime, they’ll wait for the city of Boston to be distracted at the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Co-starring Wilhelm Dafoe, the various detectives and anyone in Hollywood that has a Boston accent in their backpocket and a free day for a cameo. After the heist, and celebration (and the credits), the brothers are alone in the room when they see a mysterious business card. Handwritten on it is “Nice job for the minors. If you want to play in the majors, let me know. Let’s play ball”. They turn over the card, and the golden reflection shows on their faces, as they turn to each other and smile.
FOURTH OF JULY: A merry band of thieves, all played by actors/actresses that have been in big summer blockbusters (this is where you’d use the F&F people), led by Bill Pullman conspire to steal the Hope Diamond, moon rocks, and Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the Smithsonians during the celebration and fireworks. (Someone is legally required to steer an aircraft between fireworks at some point). Post-credits: Pullman relaxes after the heist, when a female voice breaks the silence- “That was very impressive. Perhaps you’d be interested in another opportunity” Pullman stares up at the figure we merely see in shadow as she hands him a card. “We’ll be in touch.” With that, she exits, pausing to toss an empty Pepsi One into a trashcan, and Pullman looks down to see a gold embossed crown on the card and raises his eyebrow.
HALLOWEEN: The goddamn Muppets are going to steal a giant piece of rock candy shaped like a diamond. This one will win all of the Oscars, a Nobel Peace Prize, a Grammy (this one’s a musical, get the Lopez-Andersons and Lin-Manuel in a room) and the Heisman. Cameo by Dick van Dyke as the bad guy Baron Von Monocle (he insists that it’s pronounced Mo-nok-LE, it is not). Post credits: Kermit and Fozzie are counting the rubber chickens when a shadowy man with a vaguely…American? Irish? accent says “Kermit, my friend, the time has come for me to call in that favor.” Kermit looks at Fozzie and gulps.
THANKSGIVING: Cast of people known most for holiday movies come together to steal a piece of art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I’m thinking Will Ferrell or Laura Linney lead this team. Post-credits, the whole team is greeted by a distant voice. “You know, anyone could have done it that way, but where’s the fun? Let me tell you how…I did it” The team looks stunned as the man steps from the shadows. Second post-credits, a helicopter lands near a cabin in the middle of the woods. Someone walks from the chopper to the cabin, and as they enter, a voice from inside says “Look, I don’t care what you want. You’ve done enough to me, ‘kay? I’m done with the law and I’m done with you” The chair turns to reveal a clearly worse-for-wear Denis Leary. The woman replies, “We’d like to make things even for you, just playing for the same team” A man enters behind her, “Well, my tie is off, so it’s a big day. Took longer than 10 years though.” The camera pans up to reveal Rene Russo and Pierce Brosnan. “We need you, to pull this one last job” CUT TO BLACK
NEW YEAR’S EVE- The casts of the prior films unite to steal the ball before it can drop. THE HEIST OF A LIFETIME. Seacrest is the villain (just ask STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN, HE KNOWS). It’s incredible and everyone loves it, the end…but wait, is that a business card in the ball? TO BE CONTINUED?
This is absolutely, 100% too long for THE RUNDOWN, but I’ve been noodling it over for a while now and it was time to hand over the reins to an expert.
This email accomplishes three important things. One: it is long and thought-out enough that I can just post it without doing any real additional legwork, which I appreciate. Two, it made me laugh a lot at my desk, which I also appreciate. Three, it references one of my favorite tweets ever, and gives me another excuse to post it on the internet.
Why would I put JCVD , and I do like him, in EXPENDABLES when I know SEACREST could destroy the one time great . ASK STEVE AUSTIN, he knows.
— Sylvester Stallone (@TheSlyStallone) September 17, 2010
All in all, just a terrific email. Thank you, Brandon.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
Police are investigating the theft of a 7-foot-tall (2.13 meter-tall) metal sasquatch lawn ornament from a home in southern Michigan.
WE GOT A SASQUATCH HEIST
The item crafted from sheet metal was stolen from a home in St. Joseph County’s Park Township on or after March 22, Michigan State Police said.
IT WAS A SHEET METAL SASQUATCH
WHICH IS AN INCREDIBLE NAME FOR A HARDCORE BAND
BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT
I MEAN, IT IS, BUT IT’S NOT
SHEET METAL SASQUATCH HEIST
It has a rusty brown color with various sharp edges to resemble the fur of the mythical, ape-like bigfoot.
It appeared the sasquatch was cut away from a steel post with a pair of bolt cutters or a similar instrument, police said.
God, I love this. It was a whole operation. I imagine like six dudes in a warehouse mapping out the whole thing for weeks, complete with test runs and little scale models. I’m picturing The Italian Job, basically, but for the theft of a sheet metal Sasquatch. This has altered my entire week. I must know everything about it.
A white panel van with dark driver- and passenger-side windows was observed parked in the area on March 22, police said.
THEY STAKED IT OUT
THEY HAD A VAN
TO STEAL A SHEET METAL SASQUATCH
I HEREBY DECLARE THEM NOT GUILTY BY REASON OF HILARITY