HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

THE FP -- DVD review by porfle

The Trost Brothers, Jason and Brandon, saw a niche--moviegoers who yearned for a combination of ROCKY IV, MAD MAX, and ROLLER BOOGIE--and with THE FP (2011), God help us, they have filled that niche.  With cheese.

Jason stars as JTRO, who looks like he's about to attend a costume party dressed as Snake Plissken, in this tale of a dysfuctional near-future.  When JTRO's big brother BTRO drops dead during a big battle with L. Dubba E (Lee Valmassy), the alpha bad-ass from a rival clan, JTRO is devastated and vows revenge.  And what, you ask, was the nature of the competition between BTRO and L. Dubba E?  A video game called "Dance Dance Revolution" in which players match the arrows rapidly scrolling by on the screen by stomping on an electronic dance pad.

It's a comedy, right?  When JTRO kneels by the dying BTRO and there's an overhead shot of him screaming "NOOOOOO!!!" to the heavens, it pretty much clues us in that this is a satire (as if the whole dance-off thing didn't).  But then the movie throws us for a loop by deliberately trying not to be funny or satirical, or at least pretending that it isn't, so that what we seem to have is a movie that really is the biggest conglomeration of hoary cliches and flashy 80s-style chintz that was ever played painfully straight.  It's as though the Trosts are playing a joke not only on the audience but on themselves as well.

Displaying a total lack of irony, the story follows JTRO's return to Frazier Park ("The F.P.") after a self-imposed exile, ready to train for a Beat-Beat beatdown against L. Dubba E, who's now the strutting, loudmouthed Beat-Beat king.  To this end he enlists his loyal buddy KCDC (Art Hsu), who emcees the contests, and a mysterious trainer known as BLT (Nick Principe, finally showing his face after such films as CHROMESKULL and MADISON COUNTY). 

This gives the Trosts a chance to indulge in the usual ROCKY-style training montages, except here the sweat-soaked athlete is tuning up his tootsies instead of his fists.  They also throw in the standard romantic triangle, this time with JTRO mooning over punky Courtney Love lookalike Stacy (Caitlyn Folley), who has hooked up with L. Dubba E because it keeps her drunken dad from beating her up (it's a long story). 

In this version of boy-courts-girl, though, the single red rose is replaced by a tampon, romantic kisses have evolved into blowjobs, and the mean, macho dad character is now...well, I won't spoil it.  I was surprised to find one of Nick Principe's CHROMESKULL co-stars in the role.  An almost unrecognizable Clifton Collins, Jr. also makes a brief appearance as a rainbow-haired drug dealer, while James Remar himself narrates.

With a budget of about a million dollars, THE FP has a look similar to Linda Blair's SAVAGE STREETS and features lots of recycled refuse as set decoration to represent its rundown-future setting.  Most of the dialogue is a mash-up of hip-hop and ghetto slang that's even more hard to decipher than the lingo in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.  But the story is such a rigid rehash of the basic ROCKY formula, embellished with elements of a dozen other familiar flicks, that dialogue is hardly even necessary (especially when it all finally devolves into the usual fistfights and gunplay). 

The joke, though, is that the Trost Brothers apparently don't realize how derivative and utterly stupid their own movie is, and neither does the straightfaced cast who play their roles without the slightest hint of self-awareness.  As one IMDb poster states (it might've been someone connected with the production, who knows), the movie provides the groundwork and it's up to each individual viewer to provide the comedy in his or her own mind.  Not everyone will find it worth the effort.

Of course, some of the dialogue is designed to help us along, as when L. Dubba E (Lee Valmassy is amazingly good in the role) challenges JTRO to a "beat-off" and BLT urges JTRO to "dance with your mind, not with your feet."  In one scene that comes closest to actually winking at the audience, a frantic KCDC goes on about how L. Dubba E and the rest of his vile clan have driven the ducks out of Frazier Park.  "What's a town without ducks?" he frets. 

The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 2.35:1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 and 2.0 sound and subtitles in English.  Extras consist of a Trost Brothers commentary, a three-part "making-of" featurette, another short entitled "The F.P. in THE FP--A Return to Frazier Park", green and red band theatrical trailers, an illustrated booklet, and a digital copy download code.

At times, THE FP really does seem seriously stupid instead of just wink-wink stupid, which, again, is most likely exactly what the makers intended, and I felt stupid for being interested in what amounts to the melodramatic build-up to a big dance-off.  But it kinda works, and I did kinda care who won and how the main characters' life problems worked out.  Just not a whole lot.

Buy it at

No comments: