It’s a momentous occasion, not only for Vin Diesel, but for real people named Dom, tuna sandwiches and automobiles—just, like, generally.
But it’s also a time to reflect, take stock and answer the lingering question on everyone’s mind: will someone finally release arbitrary power rankings for the top eight eight-film franchises in history?
Yes, everyone. Yes, someone will. So behold:
8. Faces of Death
What is Faces of Death, you ask? It’s a cult pseudo-documentary (or so-called “mondo film”) that basically takes viewers through a series of gruesome real and fictional scenes showing violent and extreme ways to die. It was originally banned in more than 40 countries. And, yes, there are eight of them (although the fourth is a compilation of the worst death faces, so to speak, from the first three, because that really needed to happen). You might say this influenced the Saw franchise. In which case—gee, thanks, this.
7. My Little Pony
Yesterday, as research for this very article, I perused the Wikipedia entry for the original My Little Pony movie. I was flabbergasted, and I don’t use that word lightly. In fact, it’s the fist time I’ve used that word. The plot summary reads like an Erowid post for someone’s bad acid trip at a horse ranch (or living room—that’s the thing about acid, right?). Some key words include: Baby Lickety-Split, Volcano of Gloom, Ahgg and Smooze. I’m pretty sure Danny DeVito voices someone called Grundle King, which actually totally makes sense, but I may’ve been hallucinating by then.
Beethoven is about a cute orphan Saint Bernard or whatever who helps this family be the best they can be—blah, blah, blah—and who narrowly avoids euthanasia (aka “death panels,” what a hot-button issue, is nothing apolitical nowadays?), and I’ll just include it here to get it over with, because, let’s face it, we’re all partial to 91% free-throw shooter, varsity wide receiver and overall best movie dog, Air Bud.
5. American Pie
On the one hand, American Pie has insinuated itself into the cultural lexicon in a way few comedies have before. The phrase is more or less synonymous, at this point, with sex-crazed teenagers, and there are a few scenes from the original that are unquestionably iconic. Plus, the term “MILF” would not be where it is today without American Pie. (Come to think of it, that would probably be okay.)
On the other hand, those straight-to-DVD entries were pretty awful, and made me rethink the caliber of Eugene Levy’s comedic talent. That didn’t stop me from watching every single one, and chuckling when a few dudes took Viagra and played beer games with their boners, but still.
The original was one of the most profitable independent movies of all time, and could be considered the modern film era’s ur-slasher-flick. But some of the sequels inevitably lagged—the fourth, fifth and six installments were basically their own saga, unconnected to the seventh. So while Halloween was an influential touchstone for the horror genre, the franchise, on a whole, is inconsistent.
3. Harry Potter
Four things: 1) they’ll never live up to the books; 2) as one of those grew-up-with-Harry-Potter dudes, I’m sort of personally PO’d that future generations of screen-addled children will always experience the movies first, and the books second (if at all); 3) Dumbledore, though; 4) HP only made this list because the studio split the last film in two, so they’re kind of cheating.
2. The Muppets
Kermit. Miss Piggy. Dr. Teeth. It’s impossible to hate on the Muppets. And the films have been both critical and box office successes; even the most recent installments, which can often be anathema to a big franchise, have been pretty damn good. But therein lies the rub: the Muppets are timeless. They’re immortal. They’re, for lack of a better word, Muppets. Suffice it to say, then, they haven’t overcome the same challenges as our number one franchise...
1. The Fast and the Furious
Yes, yes, of course I’m a little biased, given this whole story was pegged to today’s premiere of The Fate of the Furious. But F&F—yeah, I’m using the acronym—accomplishes something no other franchise on this list manages to accomplish: it captures the sheer ridiculousness of a franchise that would aspire to eight films in the first place. It represents a Hollywood-in-flux that’s willing to do whatever it takes to make money, even if that requires making about six more movies starring Vin Diesel and cars than most moviegoers could ever want.
The funny thing is, though, their whole grand experiment actually worked. At some point, probably around Justin Lin’s Fast Five, F&F became a sort of caricature of itself: it became faster, furious-er and way more ridiculous. Simply speaking, it became fun. Which isn’t to say the franchise has been devoid of heart; rather the opposite. At the end of Furious 7, when Dom says goodbye to Brian, and audiences say goodbye to Paul Walker, it’s hard not to get choked up. These characters—these cars—have been, whether we like it or not, a consistent part of our lives for over 16 years.
And I, for one, can’t wait to watch the eighth movie on an airplane sometime in the near future.