"Is there anything more depressing than an empty franchised restaurant's parking lot?" That was my first thought as I walked up to the neon red painted black top.
Disclaimer: this blog post makes me sound like a winey Portland hipster. While I can partially accept "Portland Hipster" I have not been to an Applebees type restaurant in ages. The short story below goes in to detail why this is the case. Also, some spoilers ahead!
Our Saturday started so swell. A hike in Washington Park to take a friend's dog for a run. A pint in NW Portland at Breakside Brewery's new location to soak up the rays and the alcohol. Their patio was a perfect combination of interesting people and people trying to be interesting. Sometimes you just gotta fake it till you make it. We were there early enough that we were in the "interesting" people crowd. Interesting enough to somehow end up in an suburbanite bar later that night.
Fast forward 5 hours and a few pints. Our movie started at 9 and unintelligently, we thought showing up at 8:10 on a Saturday was barely going to be enough time to get a good seat and some beer for the movie. Well, the lobby was empty and our mouths were thirsty. One third of the group I was with (there was only three of us) forgot their ID at home. The closest bar to the theater was a McMenamins, but we didn't want to walk there only to be let down when they carded my friend or alternatively, shotgun the beer and run back to make the movie since it was a slight walk. Choosing the alternative; a dilapidated Applebees was just 3 blocks north- we hoped they wouldn't card. This would go down as one of the worst decisions of my life.
The stench of stale beer, microwaved food, and crushed dreams fill the air. Fluorescent lights showcase an assortment of Red-State-Brew (read: bud & coors) and what your Trump supporting Aunt categorizes as a micro brew: Shock Top & Blue Moon. Aka "Toxic Shock Once a Blue Moon." "Hometown Heroes" of local High School athletes are resized out of proportion. There are no Happy Hours here...in the twilight known as "dinner time" where discount food goes into hibernation and a full priced menu forces you to reluctantly purchase that "tall" version of Bud light so you can save some pennies. You guessed it: we are in an Orangeflies (copyright infringement...I'd rather now deal with the headache.)
The brightly lit bar accentuated the depressing clientele. Sure there were Weekend-only dads trying to connect to their children across the table in the dining sections. The kids too busy on their phones. So were the dads. No, more depressing than that were the men sitting at the bar. Alone save for the haunting blue light emitting from their palms to their faces. So everybody gets into their cars, drives to the nearest Peachflies just to get on their phones? This phenomena is not an isolated incident. Men have been seen sitting alone, infinitely scrolling on their cellphones at Applebees across the United States.
This whole experience was punctuated when I asked the bartender to pour me her favorite beer on tap right now. I wish I had my phone with me to write down the name of the Horrific Pint she poured me. It was supposed to be some sort of Black Ale, but it tasted like a liquid, sugary licorice smoothie spliced with ash and crude oil. I can generally drink any beer that is placed in front of me. This is a holdover from my college days when alcohol was a commodity and being fiscally conservative meant making every ounce of beer count! I wasn't finishing this liquid sludge today. The movie was about to start- we had 5 minutes before the trailers started. I left half of my beer on the counter along with a tip. It read: don't suggest this beer again. (I'm kidding, I tipped- or at least my friends who ended up grabbing this tab did)
The jarring experience culminated with the last hurdle: buying a beer to enjoy during the movie. What to choose? Luckily, the local (read: national) chain of cinemas had a decent selection and Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale barely edged out Ninkasi's Total Domination IPA for the honor of entertaining my tastebuds while Vin Diesel races down a desert highway. It was a great choice. We grabbed the perfect seats and the trailers started.
Just kidding. You came for a Fast and Furious review and I honestly don't have too much to say on it. It was great. The mile a minute (I see what he did there) amusement park ride known as the "Fast & Furious" franchise steps it up a notch with the "family" being divided by a seemingly defected Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel). The writers use a clumsy plot device that takes the franchise half way across the globe and to new heights as the movie climaxes with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) taking down a cyber terrorist's plane while holding a baby. It is hilarious.
The whole movie is hilarious, from Luke Hobs (Dwayne Johnson) stopping a nuke with literally just his bare hands to Cipher (Charlize Theron) remotely hacking thousands of cars a la World War Z to stop the main protagonists. I guess what I realized while watching this 8th installment in the franchise, is now more than ever the movie understands how insane the plot is. Every scene serves the purpose for some shaved head (read: bald) & overly muscular action hero to make some quick retort or pun right after punching/killing someone or winning a car race. The machismo is dripping off of the screen as our heroes knock the bad guys out in an international plot to save the world and save a baby. At least my beer was good. I'd have a Corona with Dom. After this adventure. It isn't their best Fast & Furious, but it was a solid entry for the "familia."
My movie reviews are arbitrary & my own stupid opinion. From a scale to 1-10 including decimals, they are usually assigned in a quantity that has to do with the movie in review . So for the Fate of the 8 I give 7.2 Coronas.