Movies

The Rundown: Please, For The Love Of God, Release ‘F9’ On New Year’s Eve

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 — Listen to me

It is my opinion that Hollywood should release the ninth Fast & Furious movie, F9, on at least one streaming or VOD platform at 8 p.m. ET on New Year’s Eve. I say “Hollywood” here instead of any specific studio or individual because the nuts and bolts of this are not important to me. I do not care how it happens. It does not matter to me at all if the decision is made by one person or many people working together. It does not matter how many lawyers and accountants need to get involved, because that is a problem for the lawyers and accountants. I am neither. I cannot possibly stress in strong enough terms how much I do not care about the minutiae here. All that matters to me is that when I open my laptop at 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, there is a button I can click that will let me watch F9. Wonder Woman is hitting HBO Max on Christmas Day. There is precedent here. I do not think this is unreasonable.

You, the reader, probably agree with me because you are wise and smart and attractive, but I imagine all the decision-makers in Hollywood might need a bit more convincing. That’s fine. I can do a little salesmanship here. Let’s make it simple. Let’s explain this in an easy, logical, three-step analysis.

STEP 1 — There will be a captive audience

Look, the way things are going right now, most of the world will be at home on New Year’s Eve this year. Even small gatherings could be dicey, as the CDC just advised people to stay at home for Thanksgiving and I do not see things improving in any significant way in the next five-ish weeks. People are going to be stuck in the house, and bored, and bummed, and I bet millions of them would gladly kill off the last few hours of this godforsaken year by watching Dominic Toretto and his crew of misfits-turned-government-assets do battle against his evil secret brother played by John Cena and the returning notorious anarchist cyberterrorist played by Charlize Theron, who apparently has a bowl cut now.

Universal

It would probably end up being a big thing. A social media phenomenon. Millions of people trapped in their house on the biggest party night of the year live-tweeting the latest installment of the world’s craziest film franchise. These maniacs are allegedly going to space this time. Do you — I’m talking to Hollywood here — remember the first Sharknado movie? Do you remember what a wild experience that was, with what appeared to be half the country coming together to experience a movie about Ian Ziering and Tara Reid saving America from tornados filled with sharks? This could be like that, but bigger, and better, and with Ludacris playing a character who, as recently as the second film in the franchise, was officiating jet ski races and is now one of the world’s greatest hackers and technology experts. Think about it. The part about the audience on New Year’s Eve, not the trajectory of Lisa’s character. Although, think about that, too, if only because it’s fun.

And then think about…

STEP 2 — The people need this

This year has been bad, and not in the way previous years have been bad, where a few celebrities passed away and people were like “Lord take me now, this year has been unbearable.” It’s been legitimately bad, with a nasty virus keeping us inside and afraid since March, and a nasty election season, and my beloved Sixers getting swept out of the NBA playoffs in the first round, which is admittedly less important than the first two things but still matters to me.

The best solution I can think of is to let all of us watch F9 together in the last hours of the year and have Charlize Theron metaphorically scoop us up with her magnet plane and carry us into 2021 for a fresh start.

It’s a good idea. And that’s before we get to…

STEP 3 — If I don’t know how or why Han is alive by 12:01 AM on January 1, I will start heaving small appliances out my window

Come on.

Universal

COME ON.

You can’t go around releasing trailers where characters who have been killed off two separate times in your franchise come sauntering into the action all calm-like and not tell me how or why it happened for close to a year. That’s not okay. It’s not fair. Do not let this linger into 2021. Tell me. Just tell me. I am willing to wait until the last moments of 2020 to find out but if we are four months into 2021 and I still don’t know… I will not handle it well. I might become an anarchist cyberterrorist… once I figure out exactly what one of those does, beyond attempting to steal a nuclear submarine, which Charlize Theron did in the last movie and was thwarted by the Family, which is just a wonderful thing to wrap your head around considering the whole thing started with Vin Diesel racing neon Hondas and stealing DVD players.

Please, Hollywood. Just do it. Release F9 on New Year’s Eve. To heal the nation.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — Have you thanked Dolly Parton today?

Prior to this week, it was the position of this column that Dolly Parton is a top 10 living American and top 25 all-time. There are many reasons for this claim, but if you asked me to summarize them in bullet point form, or if you didn’t but happened to be near me when I started going off about it (again), I suppose it would look something like this:

  • Has donated over 100 million books to libraries across America as part of her program to advance children’s literary
  • Gave $1,000 a month to 900 families affected by the Gatlinburg fires in Tennessee for five months, and then gave them $5,000 in the sixth months because donations to her foundation increased
  • Allegedly wrote “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” on the same day
  • Was a producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Wrote and performed the song “9 to 5,” which still rules and is embedded above, and which you should probably be playing as you read this

Just an entire lifetime of being the best, both personally and professionally. And, somehow, she took it to a new level this week when news broke that development of one of the most promising coronavirus vaccines out there was funded in part by her $1 million donation.

The Washington Post has some cool background on how and why the donation to the Vanderbilt team came to be, and how it started with a minor car accident that resulted in her befriending a doctor there.

That’s where she met Naji Abumrad, a physician and professor of surgery. Abumrad knew next to nothing about the beloved megastar with big, blond hair, but he soon befriended her because he deeply enjoyed their talks about current events and science.

Their bond of nearly seven years received worldwide attention Tuesday after it was revealed that Parton’s $1 million donation to Vanderbilt for coronavirus research, made in honor of Abumrad, partially funded the biotechnology firm Moderna’s experimental vaccine, which a preliminary analysis released this week found is nearly 95 percent effective at preventing the illness.

Please do take a second here to imagine meeting Dolly Parton with no prior knowledge of who she is or why she is important. That’s a fun little side note to this story. Not the most important part, or even close to it, really, because we kind of have Dolly Parton to thank for curing a deadly pandemic that has shut down the world for most of the year.

Which brings me back to the heading of this section: Have you — like, you, personally — thanked Dolly Parton today for all she’s done? Because you should. I’m doing it now. And I’m also updating my figures: Dolly Parton is a top-five living American and top 10 all-time.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — I hope Paolo Sorrentino made a note when he saw this

HBO

The Pope’s official Instagram page liked a butt picture. I’m sorry for diving right into this like that but I don’t really know how else to do it. It happened, it’s hilarious, and people are taking it very seriously, which is also a little hilarious. Let’s check the reporting from Catholic News Agency.

The picture “liked” by Pope Francis’ verified account, Franciscus, features Brazilian model and Twitch streamer Natalia Garibotto wearing a lingerie outfit that resembles a school uniform. Garibotto’s mostly-uncovered posterior is visible in the picture. The exact time of the “like” is unclear, but it was visible and reported by news outlets on November 13.

The photograph was unliked on November 14, after CNA asked the Holy See Press Office for comment. An official for the Holy See Press Office declined to comment on the event.

See? There it is. The Pope liked a butt pic, which I would consider his second most notable social media moment, just behind this consistently useful tweet:

Anyway, yes, there is now an investigation underway, which is, again, also kind of hilarious.

Sources close to the Vatican press office confirmed to CNA that the pope’s various social media accounts are managed by a team of employees, and that an internal investigation is underway to determine how the “like” happened.

I love it. I feel bad for the poor Vatican employee who was scrolling through naughty Instagram pictures without realizing he or she was still logged into THE POPE’S OFFICIAL INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT, but still, objectively funny. My only hope now is that this news is on the radar of Paolo Sorrentino, creator of both The Young Pope and The New Pope, because this would make a perfect storyline for a third installment of the show, hopefully titled something like The Tall Pope and starring Adam Driver. I’ll pray for it. I’ll pray for it really hard.

HBO

Probably not that hard. But close.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — No, Matthew McConaughey is not running for Governor of Texas… yet

WARNER BROS.

I don’t know how much time you spend online. Hopefully, less than I do. But if you’re on here a fair amount, you might have seen a few stories this week about Matthew McConaughey considering a run for Governor of Texas. This is, as it turns out, not entirely true, as McConaughey himself attempted to clear up to Stephen Colbert afterward. Here are some things he said during that attempt.

“I have no plans to do that right now, as I said, that would be up to a lot of other people”

“I don’t get politics. Politics seems to be a broken business. Politics needs to redefine its purpose.”

“As I move forward in life, am I going to consider leadership roles where I can be most useful? I’d love to, I’m doing that regardless. That’s where I sit right now.”

Seems clear enough to me. So, how did things get so confused? It all started with an interview he did with Hugh Hewitt to promote his new book, Greenlights. He’s been everywhere promoting this sucker, and he’s a nice and charming man who doesn’t want to be rude to his hosts, so that can lead to exchanges like this one, which starts just after Hewitt half-jokingly suggested the gubernatorial run.

MCCONAUGHEY: I don’t know. I mean, that wouldn’t be up to me. It would be up to the people more than it would me. I would say this. Look, politics seems to be a broken business to me right now. And when politics redefines its purpose, I could be a hell of a lot more interested.

HEWITT: You know, it’s fascinating to me. It’s a fascinating concept. Like Arnold did in California, some people get one shot. Now you’re the brand ambassador for Lincoln and Wild Turkey. If you were the brand ambassador for the U.S. for President-Elect Biden, I’m just curious what could you recommend that both Republican and Democrats could get behind?

MCCONAUGHEY: Well, you know me. I’ve talked to you about it before. I’m, I want to get behind personal values to rebind our social contracts with each other as Americans, as people again.

Again, seems like a clear case of him being nice and trying to gently steer the conversation away from where it was headed. But apparently, some people heard that and got excited and spun it into articles like “Is Matthew McConaughey Considering A Run For Governor?” and that put it into the world in a way that could not be undone. It’s just too good of a visual. Picture Matthew McConaughey in a debate, telling long stories that barely get anywhere, calling the moderator “kemosabe,” all of it. You can see it right now. I know I can. It makes me sad I did enough research here to realize it won’t happen.

In fact, you know what? I take it back. Pretend I never said anything. The fiction is way more fun. Let’s roll with that.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Well, guess what: Spike Lee is making a musical about Viagra

Universal

Two things worth noting here:

  • Spike Lee is making a musical about Viagra, which I know I said in the heading but I really wanted to say again
  • The image I used is from Inside Man, also directed by Spike Lee, because I could not think of an image to use that accurately explained the concept of Spike Lee directing a Viagra musical

But yes, this is happening, for real. It will be based on an Esquire article by David Kushner, and it will feature original songs by a Tony-winning duo, and it came with an official statement from Spike, which I will print in full because statements from Spike Lee are always a blast.

“First And Foremost,I Thank Ms. Jacquelyn Shelton Lee. I Thank My Late Mother For As She Would Say Taking “My Narrow,Rusty Behind” Dragging,Kickin’ And Screamin’ To The Movies When I Wuz A Nappy Headed Kid Growing Up In Da Streets Of Da People’s Republic Of Brooklyn. I Did Not Want To See Corny People Singin’ And Dancin’. I Instead Wanted To Play With My Friends On Da Block,Stoop Ball,Stick Ball,Punch Ball, Soft Ball, Basketball,2 Hand Touch, Tackle Football, Coco Leevio, Johnny On Da Pony, Hot,Peas And Butter, Crack Top,Down Da Sewer And Of Course-Booty’s Up. All The Great New York City Street Games That Might Be Sadly Lost Forever. My Father,Bill Lee,Jazz/Folk Bassist,Composer HATED HollyWeird Movies,Henceforth And What Not,Me Being The Eldest Of 5 Children I Became Mommy’s Movie Date. She Was A Cinefile. Thank You Lawdy She Didn’t Listen To My Ongoing Complaints About Musicals. So Finally Going Into My 4th Decade As A Filmmaker I Will Be Directing An DANCIN’,ALL SINGIN’ MUSICAL Spike Lee Joint And I Can’t Wait. My Moms Has Been Waiting TOO!!! And Dats Da Rodgers And Hammerstein Truth,Ruth.”

I love that Spike capitalizes every word of his statements. It must take so much extra time. Everyone on social media does the all lowercase thing now (guilty), but Spike is out there still holding down the shift key every few letters. I love it. I also love that he closed this out with “And Dats Da Rodgers And Hammerstein Truth, Ruth.” Has to be the first time that collection of letters was ever written or typed in that order. Historic in a number of ways, really.

READER MAIL

If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at brian.grubb@uproxx.com (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.

From Joe:

After reading your brilliant reasoning for why Tom Hardy should play a Paddington villain (the most correct thing posted on the internet in 2020), I want to throw a suggestion at you. Tom Hardy should play the villain in a Paddington – Mission: Impossible crossover. I understand this sounds insane, but I hope I can argue for the contrary. The basic idea is I want two scenes. The first is when Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) express disbelief that they’re working with a talking bear while Ethan (Tom Cruise) just smiles and shrugs like this isn’t even the craziest thing that’s happened to him in the last six months. Also, I want to see Tom Cruise running just pell-mell while Paddington trundles along behind, apologizing as he bumps into everyone Tom dodged. For the latter scene, I would also accept Paddington atop an animal easily outpacing a stunned Ethan or Paddington clinging to Ethan like Yoda does to Luke in Star Wars. Alongside this, I want Tom Hardy just chewing all the scenery he can, putting Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s performance from M:I-3 to shame. Call it Mission: Impossible – Pilfered in Peru and I’ll see it in theatres at least 15 times.

I have nothing to add. This is just a great email. I would see this movie twice in IMAX once we are allowed to go see movies in IMAX again. I hope it opens with Tom Cruise and Paddington flinging themselves over Niagara Falls on a huge inflatable raft. I hope they do that before they even explain why or how Paddington is there. That can happen after the credits. The beginning is for chaos.

I repeat: this was a great email. Thank you, Joe.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Sacramento!

A man wanted for his role in an alleged $35 million Ponzi scheme was arrested Monday after evading FBI agents by swimming into California’s largest reservoir using an underwater “sea scooter,” federal prosecutors said.

I’ve been reading this sentence all week and it has made me smile every time. To be clear, I do not think Ponzi schemes are funny. Ponzi schemes are bad. Do not do a Ponzi scheme and tell people I said you should. And do not Ponzi scheme me either. Not even a little bit. I would not like that at all. But just the idea of this, the general concept of a bozo fraudster fleeing the authorities by leaping into a lake and buzzing around for a bit with a “sea scooter”… I’m sorry, but that is extremely funny to me.

Matthew Piercey spent nearly 30 minutes in frigid Lake Shasta using the Yamaha 350Li submersible device before he eventually resurfaced and was handcuffed, the Sacramento Bee reported. It wasn’t immediately known if the 44-year-old has an attorney.

Please do stop here and try to picture what was going through this guy’s head as he shivered his way through an icy lake on a submersible scooter with the FBI on the warmer dry land just waiting him out. I don’t know if I’m more impressed he made it 30 minutes or more disappointed he didn’t keep going until the battery died.

Either way, there’s good news: This gets even funnier.

“Then, Piercey abandoned his truck near the edge of Lake Shasta, pulled something out of it, and swam into Lake Shasta,” federal prosecutors wrote in court documents calling Piercey a flight risk. “Piercey spent some time out of sight underwater where law enforcement could only see bubbles.”

Okay, now please stop to imagine what was going through the FBI agents’ minds as they stood on the edge of the lake watching this guy spin around in circles as telltale bubbles floated to the surface to give away his location. It was probably like the end of the movie Spy where Jason Statham’s character gives this big speech about how he wants to sail up the coast because a man needs to go to sea sometimes and he takes off on the boat without realizing that the body of water he has set out on for this adventure is actually a lake.

I guess what I’m saying here is that Spy is a good movie.

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