Previously: Julie Andrews is an Etiquette Icon in The Princess Diaries and Emily Gilmore: Etiquette Hero
I distinctly remember seeing The Fast and the Furious in the theater with my dad and my sister and loving it. The movie came out mere months before I got my driver’s license and probably influenced my *ahem* slight lead foot. It definitely influenced my decision in high school to date someone with a “racing” car with a ridiculous spoiler and to ride along with that person in at least one drag race (we lost to a Camaro- the F&F rule about American muscle comes true again). Later, I continued to enjoy seeing all the movies as they came out, but it wasn’t until a recent re-watch of the first film that I realized that within the rules of the movie universe (breaking laws and getting into fights is an acceptable thing to do), Paul Walker as Brian O’Connell shows flawless manners and gentlemanly behavior throughout the first two movies. After that, as the series turned towards heist movies focused on the overall group and the ability to spent time on the etiquette details is sadly diminished. Overall, the rest of the movies are also more focused on the heists and not as much on group dynamics and the rules of street racing, thus the opportunities to show etiquette are diminished. The other movies are still great! This blog is just not Uncommon Heists, unfortunately, so I will only be discussing The Fast and the Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious.
Many spoilers ahead. If you are not already extremely familiar with the Fast and Furious franchise, please re-examine your life choices ASAP.
The Fast and The Furious Etiquette Highlights
- Brian O’Connor always says thank you. This is such a lovely character detail, I can’t get over it.
- Not a Brian O’Connor moment, but there are a lot of girls in very short skirts getting out of very low cars in this movie and they do a great job of doing it gracefully.
- After Brian rescues Dom (Vin Diesel) from the cops, Dom invites him into the party at his house, fantastic etiquette, Dom! He also takes a beer from Vince who keeps fighting with Brian and give it to him. This is not good etiquette, it’s gross, but I see what they were trying to do here.
- Vince shows very poor etiquette for wanting to walk out of the barbeque when he sees that Brian is there. Of course, when he comes crawling back, Dom shows his good hosting skills by graciously accepting him.
- Speaking of the barbeque scene, Dom has a really great rule- whoever reaches for the chicken first says grace. Jesse comes up with this: “Dear heavenly spirit, thank you for providing us with the direct port nitrous injection, four-core intercoolers, an’ ball-bearing turbos, and… um… titanium valve springs. Thank you. (When asked to say grace, keep it simple or try this very secular prayer that I have adapted to great use: “For what we are about to receive, let us be truly thankful.”)
- Brian continues to show his good manners (and interest in Mia) by helping her do the dishes- “the cook doesn’t clean where I come from” (always a good rule to live by!)
- When Brian takes Mia out to dinner, he picks up the check. Awww, chivalry.
- There’s a scene where Brian and Dom race a Ferrari on the PCH, and the Ferrari guy is super rude when he says that it’s more than they can afford (tbh, it’s also rude that Brian even ASKS!), and I mean come on, a guy in another fancy car can’t tell with his EYES that you are driving a Ferrari, you have to point it out?
- Racing rules have to be followed too. When Jesse bets his car and loses, he panics and runs off. By breaking his bet, he ends up getting murdered, which is etiquette really taken to a ridiculous extreme.
- Saving face and keeping a good reputation are extremely important in this culture of machismo, so when Tran accuses Dom of narcing on him, Dom beats him badly. This is clearly not the way to work out your differences.
- Ultimately, Brian keeps his promise to Dom about giving him a 10 second car when he gives him his car and allows him to escape the cops at the end. Because he is a stand up guy.
2 Fast 2 Furious
- The movie opens with a phenomenal race including using a bridge as a ramp. After Brian wins (and Suki comes in 2nd place…almost making up for a tiny bit of the rampant misogyny in the franchise), he tips out a portion of his earnings to Tej, the guy who organized the race.
- When Brian and Roman get the job as drivers for Carter Verone, they are sitting down to lunch. When Carter joins them, Brian starts to stand as a sign of respect until Carter waves him down. (Although weirdly he didn’t stand up when Monica [Eva Mendez] joined them- traditionally, seated men were supposed to stand when a woman joined them, though obviously we don’t do that anymore.)
- Brian is also skilled at polite introductions, introducing Roman to Tej with aplomb.
- Brian does make a small etiquette blunder when he asks Tej if Roman can stay with him when Tej clearly doesn’t want to.
The Fast and Furious movies are obviously not brimming over with good etiquette, but it is impressive that the characterization of Brian O’Connor makes any nods towards etiquette at all given the action movie genre. Maybe the 7th movie will bring back a look at good etiquette? I’ll let you know, I’m seeing it tonight.