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The Fast and Furious family (2023 edition) gathers around an outdoor picnic table for one of their signature cookouts in Fast X. Present and making a toast with various beers and drinks: Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Han (Sung Kang), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), Dom (Vin Diesel), Little Brian (Leo Abelo Perry), Abuelita (Rita Moreno), Mia (Jordana Brewster), Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, back to camera) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) Photo: Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures

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The family cookouts of Fast and Furious, ranked

A very scientific report, from The Fast and the Furious to Fast X

The celebratory family cookout is one of the more endearing tropes in the Fast and Furious franchise, a beat closely related to the series’ long-standing “family” meme — it’s usually where Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) mumbles something about the importance of family to his friends, right before they all drive off to suplex a tank.

Repetition over the course of 10 movies has turned these scenes into wry comedy, and yet right up through 2023’s Fast X, the movies play them with utter sincerity. For a while, they were sincere — and maybe the best proof that this scattered crew does actually have some family feeling. In fact, I believe a Fast and Furious movie lives and dies by its cookouts. The best cookouts aren’t necessarily in the best movies, but the quality of a given Fast family cookout goes a long way toward grounding the ridiculous over-the-top action that’s meant as the main draw.

Also I just really love grilling with some homies, and if a Fast movie does not do this, I get very upset. I’ve been upset a few times, folks.

10. The Fate of the Furious

Naturally, this is a subjective list, and Fate of the Furious is a rock-bottom cookout because it exemplifies all my particular Fast family gripes. First of all, it’s at the end of arguably the weakest film in the series, though it fights F9 for that dishonor. It also shirks the blue-collar theater of the other Fast and Furious cookouts, taking place on a Manhattan rooftop in swank surroundings. And while I am generally on board with these films’ extremely loose definition of “family,” I don’t fully buy former villain Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) breaking bread with the gang, as fun as he is to have around.

9. F9: The Fast Saga

The Fast Family circa F9: The Fast Saga, as the entire gang is seated at the table while Dom stands at the head, looking off camera for Brian O’Conner to arrive Image: Universal Pictures

This cookout gets points for reuniting Han and Sean from Tokyo Drift, along with a few other supporting players from previous films, like Don Omar’s Santos from Fast & Furious. The spread is dire, though. Try as F9 might to distract me with Coronas, I am puzzled by what looks like a single plate of meat and a lot of greens, with barely any carbs in sight. This is not a judgment, but a call for balance. (That bottle of what looks like a French’s-brand condiment? I will be judgmental about that.)

My real umbrage with this scene, however, is the sad state of this grill.

A close up on the grill in F9: The Fast Saga, with six raw hamburger patties on it and six accompanying corncobs Image: Universal Pictures

Those patties look suspiciously store-bought and pre-made, and I’m confident they’re going to come out dry as hell. Also, with the meat that raw, I should be able to see the seasoning from here, friends. Dust those patties! The corn? Whatever, the important part comes after you grill it.

I expect better from the Fast family. As you will see from other entries on this list, these people should know what they’re doing at a barbecue.

8. 2 Fast 2 Furious

There isn’t a cookout in this one. Why is it not at the bottom of the list? Because it has Tej’s garage instead, a waterfront party that doubles as a fascinating artifact of the very different vibe these movies had in the early installments. 2 Fast 2 Furious was the franchise’s first peak: “Family” wasn’t a buzzword yet, because these films still had too much debauchery to get out of their system.

This is why this party scene rules: It’s peak early-2000s excess. There are women partying in bikinis, men peacocking for the crowd, and money being bet on stupid Jet Ski races. It’s a scene more interested in Chris “Ludacris” Bridges than the character he plays. Ludacris starring in this movie was a big deal at the time — watch one of his music videos, and you’ll see the intended audience for the rapper and these movies is basically the same.

7. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

Another one without a cookout, Tokyo Drift gets a pass thanks to a scene where Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) has lunch in his new Tokyo high school cafeteria. Folks, I want to eat everything here, even if Bow Wow shows up immediately after to be ignorant about it.

6. Fast & Furious

In Fast & Furious, the gang is barely a gang, and they are also the most wanted by the authorities that they’ve ever been, so kicking it with a big ol’ function is not really an option. Instead, Dom, his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), and Brian (Paul Walker) order takeout together, hunkering down after getting out of a bad scrape and scolding each other over who says grace. This scene is brief, but it’s sweet — one of the few times Mia and Dom read as actual siblings, and Brian as the guy who earned his place in their family. The extended family doesn’t fully gather around them until the next film, but it’s because of a scene like this that it all comes together so well.

5. Fast X

As you can see in the image at the top of this post, there is a respectable spread here, with Rita Moreno as “Abuelita” at the head of the table where she belongs. However, she is also my gripe with this scene, as Dominic tells his son that she made her “famous maduros” and I cannot see them. If you zoom way in on that shot, you’ll see them in the casserole dish by her side. But if you are going to call out famous maduros, you have to give them a hero shot.

That aside, there’s a good variety of food here, and I would happily pull up a chair after bringing a tres leches cake I bought from the guy my parents know. (There are never any desserts in these. I would be a great value add.)

4. Furious 7

The highest-ranking Fast film without an actual cookout, Furious 7 trades a barbecue for a beachside gathering that doubles as a bittersweet farewell to late star Paul Walker, and that’s enough for me. The Fast and Furious movies have returned to this well of sentiment in just about every movie since, but they all don’t feel as earnest as this one, even if the family does remember to say grace over dinner.

3. Fast Five

More of a cook-in than a cookout, Fast Five’s big feast is a pre-heist moment of camaraderie, which gives it a looser vibe that helps it stand out from the rest. Up to this point, Dom’s crew hasn’t been a family, but this meal makes them one — because the food (unfortunately barely visible!) is secondary to the revelation that Mia and Brian are expecting a baby. It’s an effective beat to hit before this movie goes on to show the gang doing some truly ridiculous thieving in its final act.

2. The Fast and the Furious

A lot of Fast and Furious’ franchise tropes weren’t actually established until recent entries in the series, but the cookout isn’t one of them. In fact, calling it a trope here is a disservice to the scene, which does a lot to humanize Dom — in this movie, the entire crew is effectively a pack of sympathetic villains who lure hero Brian O’Conner away from his police badge. The Fast and the Furious isn’t brimming with character work, but it does demonstrate an understanding that how people break bread together — and who they choose to break it with — says a lot about them.

1. Fast & Furious 6

The platonic ideal of a Fast and Furious cookout. Fast & Furious 6 is the perfect blend of old and new while also leveraging the franchise’s impressively tangled continuity to make the family feel like a unit. Tej and Roman are grilling together! The gang is finally back in LA after being on the run for almost the entire series! They’ve overcome a lot together, and they have some good food to eat! Tej remembers to brush down the chicken with sauce! (There’s chicken! Meat variety is so important.) There’s some booze on hand for drinking, and hopefully for basting. And Roman, of all people, delivers the best grace in the entire franchise, taking time to thank God himself for fast cars.

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