Nothing Says Comedy Like the Post-Apocalyptic Dance-Offs of "The FP" Review

To call The FP over the top would be a massive understatement; here is a film that takes its premise, story, dialogue and characterization to the edge of camp and then jumps over the edge screaming with joy. Following in the footsteps of films like Dodgeball, which achieve ridiculousness by placing real stakes on a silly game, The FP taps into a world where the height of street cred comes from success at a dancing video game not unlike Dance Dance Revolution. Within that world, two rival gangs battle it out to techno beats with a story of an underdog coming back from despair all while mixing in odd visual themes. If you can’t stomach all the cheese that brother director duo Brandon and Jason Trost layered on their sloppily edited and thinly plotted, saucily spoken story – then you best stay away. For everyone else, The FP is 80-minutes of comically overwrought drama.

The battle for control of the neighborhood Frazier Park has long been contested, via the dance video game Beat Beat Revelation, by the gangs known as the 245, a bunch of trailer-park living rednecks, and the 248, led by brothers BTro and JTro. On what should have been just another night of empty dance-offs, BTro falls over dead mid-competition sending JTro into depression and away from the game. In his absence, the 245 takes over Frazier Park and turns it into a drug-riddled slum. Eventually the two of JTro’s friends come looking for him so that he can begin his training to take back the FP through the only form of competition anyone respects: Beat Beat Revelation. Along the way, he just might make his brother proud and win the heart of the blowjob-obsessed girl-next-door.

The Trost brothers clearly delighted in their film’s drawing on elements of classics featuring stars like Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, and anyone else generally associated with testosterone. Obviously borrowed themes are found in The FP’s sampling the Rocky series for its basic “fighter trains to return to his prime” montage, the story, and the appearance of the villain as something of bad Mr. T knock-off (Or maybe it was supposed to be Street Fighter’s Zangief – who can tell?) by the time of the final conflict. Other familiar elements float up time and time again, like JTro’s general appearance being modeled off of Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken or possibly Metal Gear Solid’s Solid Snake, even if the eye patch is on the wrong side.The FP is one giant tongue-in-cheek reference to a world of pop culture that takes itself far too seriously.

An odd visual theme running throughout the film is the presentation of “North vs. South”, with the visual context being America vs. the Confederacy. While JTro and BTro come in wearing their uniforms of stars and stripes, the opposing gang, the 245, has little cohesion visually, but there is one guy wearing a Confederacy cap. When BTro falls and JTro runs off and the 245 takes over the FP, JTro returns to find his enemies have incorporated the US flag, sparsely, into their own outfits. This is really as far as The FP goes to represent the two sides as having particular visual styles or establishing their rivalry as being one of a north and south dichotomy. There’s an obvious streak of contempt for the “southern” side of the team, even if they are the bad guys, with the cronies being coon-skin cap wearing numbskulls, their leader being a womanizing and violent brute with a pick-up trick, and shifting and talking during a mangled singing of the national anthem.

Unfortunately, there are a great many editing and story issues in the film with some glaring inconsistencies having to do with how different takes are cut together and how characters will jump back and forth within a frame between cuts because of it. Or sometimes, for the sake of the story, a character who was in one place, will suddenly be in another because it gives the movie a place to go. In terms of story, it’s never really clarified why BTro died, just that he did and for whatever reason JTro feels responsible. They don’t bother to explain, they just treat it like JTro’s personal shame. It’s the kind of mistake that ruins the experience if you’re trying to make sense of it, but if you’re just treating it like mindless humor, then you might not even notice.

This isn’t a film for everyone, and it’s not necessarily even aimed at people who loved the original video game that stars as the influence for the film’s primary face-off device; it’s for anyone who has ever wanted to see what would happen if the world took Dance Dance Revolution as seriously as those kids in arcades who pour quarters into the machines in some fevered quest for a highscore. The world the Trost brothers create to legitimize such a value placed on DDR is a cross between post-apocalyptic and white trash suburbia, where small homes and trailers stand side-by-side, assuming they’re not joined by a lean-to.  Abandoned, sandy lots filled with the husks of cars and temporary buildings, Christmas lights and flooded with a Tron-esque electronica soundtrack go a long way towards creating the underworld the Trost brothers wanted for their world.

Make sure to look out for the fun cameo by Clifton Collins Jr. as a drug-dealing, gate-checking clown.

If you can sit back and enjoy the lunacy of it all and the 80s inspirational sports movie-thin characterization of everyone on screen then this might be one of the more amusing experiences you can have in a theater. Otherwise, stay away.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

It's always nice when a film's creators recognize the cult following their film has accrued and take the time to make extras where most studios wouldn't have bothered with a title this obscure. In the case of The FP, the extras themselves are rather basic, like a production featurette, an amusing commentary by the Trost brothers, a look at the real FP, and a booklet insert with written pieces by Rob Zombie as well as directing duo Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.

"The FP" is on sale June 19, 2012 and is rated R. Comedy. Directed by Brandon Trost, Jason Trost. Written by Brandon Trost, Jason Trost. Starring Art Hsu, Brandon Trost, Caitlyn Folley, Jason Trost, Lee Valmassy.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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