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Kids can now join the “fast” party as the high-energy race car craze Fast & Furious debuted its animation series Fast & Furious: Spy Racers on Dec. 7 at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. With a blue carpet rolled out, fans lined the plaza to steal a glimpse of their turbo-charged idol, Vin Diesel, who executive produced the Netflix original series along with Neal H. Moritz, Chris Morgan, Tim Hedrick and Bret Haaland.
Based on Universal’s multibillion-dollar franchise, Fast & Furious: Spy Racers follows a diverse teenage pack of friends led by Tony Toretto, who ushers his team on the adventure of a lifetime as they are recruited by a secret government agency to infiltrate a notorious racing gang. The cast includes a herd of Hollywood newcomers — Tyler Posey, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Camille Ramsey, Luke Youngblood, Charlet Chung and Jorge Diaz. Diesel’s daughter, Similce, also made her acting debut in the series. Diesel shared a “proud dad moment” with the audience as he gleamed with joy for her as a part of the cast. While introducing her he asked if she wanted to say something and with a smile, she eagerly snatched the mic, saying, “I am so excited, so let’s just watch these two episodes.”
Before the theater went dark, Diesel shared with the audience how the project was initiated. “When presented with the idea to do an animated series, I was like ‘Huh?’ Quickly I realized what a brilliant way to celebrate the core themes of the Fast & Furious saga and to do so [for] the youngest of our families because at the end of the day Fast & Furious is synonymous with family.” Diesel reflected on his relationship with Universal while the crowd went wild with applause as he said they are “pioneers who said it didn’t matter where you were from, what nationality you were.”
As Dream Works Animation marks its 25th year bringing the beloved fascination to screens, the genre continues to be a strong entity in theaters and homes. Spy Racers takes the kid viewer on an explosive ride that mirrors the adult franchise while maintaining the integrity minus the hardcore violence, nudity, sex, foul language and bloody fight scenes. Hedrick told The Hollywood Reporter, “This is a chance for kids to experience Fast & Furious in a safe way because they’re not necessarily going to go to the movie if they’re R-rated, but this is a lot like it. Only it’s safe. Haaland added “It’s a new look at the franchise specifically for families to watch together. The Fast franchise is all about family. It’s got all the action and comedy; great characters, and I think people are going to love it.”
What shocked attendees the most is that Diesel had a surprise cameo in the screening which, until now, has not been previously revealed. Spy Racers is not only a heart-racing ride of comedy full of revved engines and burned rubber, but it provides elements that resonate with young audiences. “When I see young girls, I want them to be able to approach the object of cars and to be interested in cars in a way that’s not intimidating. For characters like Layla Gray and Echo to be a representation of women who are unapologetic about their love of cars and racing [and] high-speed chases. All the high octane in the movies is all there still, but it’s also appropriate for children and that’s a great entry point when it comes to animation,” Chung told THR.
Universal’s chairwoman Donna Langley was seen at the afterparty which was hosted feet away in a family friendly setting at Antojitos at Universal CityWalk. At the party, guests feasted on tacos and sliders with all the fixings while there was a station set up to get themed T-shirts made on the spot.
“I thought it was really cool. I loved how it was able to bring the Fast & Furious franchise into a way younger kids can appreciate it. I’m not able to watch [the original series], but I can get the same experience without all the bad stuff,” 14-year-old actor Pierce Gagnon said.
Spy Racers debuts Dec. 26 on Netflix while the ninth chapter of the Fast & Furious saga hits theaters May 22, 2020.
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