The Fast and the Furious

Mere minutes into “The Fast and the Furious,” there’s a scene in which two men engage in a fistfight in front of two gorgeous racecars while three hot women look on. I expected them to start drinking beer, watching a football game and listening to the Offspring, too.

“The Fast and the Furious” is not shy about catering (OK, pandering) to its target demographic of wound-up adolescent males. It’s a dumb movie, to be sure, about the glamorous world of guys who soup up their cars and race them on the streets of Los Angeles, and then occasionally use their driving expertise to hijack delivery trucks full of DVD players. But for a while, it’s the entertaining kind of dumb — not the kind that makes you tired, like “The Mummy Returns,” or bored, like “Tomb Raider.” It’s the kind of dumb that holds your interest with its overwrought dialogue, goofy plot twists and thrilling car chases, of which there are several thousand.

Our hero is Brian (Paul Walker), a blondish ex-con from Arizona who becomes friends with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), the brawny ringleader of the aforementioned amateur racers. Well, first he gets in a fight with Dom, but then they become friends when, after a race, the cops show up and Brian is the one to help Dom get away. Dom’s friends still don’t like Brian, though, but then they start liking him anyway. (I’d like to say it’s more clear in the movie, but it isn’t.)

One of the friends who doesn’t like him but then does, sort of, is Vince (Matt Schulze), who is jealous because Brian is getting frisky with Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), whom Vince previously had a claim on.

But there are bigger fish to fry, because a group of Asian motorcycle punks led by Johnny Tran (Rick Yune) is hassling Dom’s crew over an old business deal that went sour. Plus, the cops are working pretty heavily on finding out which of these automotive geniuses is going around robbing truck drivers.

If last year’s “Gone in 60 Seconds” had dropped all its pretenses of plot and had just shown a lot of neat cars driving fast, it would have been “The Fast and the Furious.” This movie makes a few attempts at characterization — we hear Dom’s tragic backstory, for example — but it hardly even cares if we take them seriously. You can almost hear the writers saying, “OK, this screenwriting book says we should have stuff like this in our script, so here you go. Now let’s go ride in some more cars.”

This movie is the guy at the party who, no matter what the conversation is really about, can always twist it around to be about cars again. It’s a loud, pointless movie, but it performs its loud pointlessness pretty well. The most you can hope for in a movie like this is that it won’t be annoying, and sure enough, it isn’t.

B- (; PG-13, abundant profanity, some sexuality, some strong violence.)