In a not-so-distant future, rival gangs square off in underground "Beat Beat Revelation" tournaments. JTRO (Jason Trost) and BTRO (Brandon Barrera) are two brothers who routinely wipe the floor with their competition, but their dream team is halved when BTRO has a panic-induced meltdown and dies during a battle with the vile L Dubba E (Lee Valmassey). Distraught, JTRO goes off the grid, taking a job out in the countryside, but when his friend and match emcee KCDC (Art Hsu) shows up and tells him that L Dubba E has taken over the local liquor mart and rules drink distribution with an iron fist, JTRO agrees to dust off his moon boots and take down L once and for all.
If someone's gonna make a weird movie, there's never a good reason for them to pull their punches. It doesn't do anyone any favors to produce a "meet-in-the-middle" version of an insane idea that waters down anything weird or alienating in the hopes of appeasing a mainstream audience that's never going to show up anyway. At the very least, The FP gets that much right: there is nothing about this film that is compromised, pulled-back, or muted. At the same time, the Trost Brothers' 110% commitment is in service of an obnoxiously juvenile and wildly unfunny movie that never lets up with its racism, sexism, or stupidity in order to get a laugh.
The synopsis for The FP makes it sound pretty awesome, but the minute someone opens their mouth, it's 90 degrees downhill from there. A seemingly endless combination of "yo," "dog," "bro," "bitch," and "nig" fall out of every character's mouth, all with a thudding wink and a nudge. Not only is this one of those films that automatically thinks all swearing is funny (illustrated by an endless scene where KCDC mangles the national anthem with profanity and poor singing), but all of these wanna-be gangstas -- the two leads, the villain, his two sidekicks (James DeBello and Bryan Goddard), the girl (Caitlyn Folley), a sub-villain (Dov Tiefenbach) -- are all white, making The FP a new nadir in hipster racism. Yes, it's a joke, a comment on people who act like this, but that doesn't really make it any funnier, especially when it's done nonstop for 83 minutes. The film's treatment of women isn't much better: Folley's character is just a bubbly blonde with her bra hanging out for JTRO to save and L Dubba E to abuse. She's dependent on L despite hating his guts (she needs the alcohol for her abusive father), leading to a moment where she picks L over JTRO just so she can run back to him in the very next scene with a black eye and tell him she made a mistake. (I don't even know what to say about the scene she and JTRO bond because he has a tampon for her, saving her the trouble of digging for one in a children's playground with a stick, or dialogue like "B -- balance! Not floppy twat legs!")
Brandon Trost has made a name for himself as a DP, and I've liked some of his work, but The FP fails to distinguish itself from the modern cinematographer's bag teal and orange bag of tricks. The movie is nicely lit and impressively polished for a production that clearly cost no money, but unlike his work on Rob Zombie's much-maligned Halloween II, none of his shots here stand out in and of itself, as if all of his effort and ingenuity was used up putting that "big movie" sheen on it. The Trost brothers' direction isn't that impressive either: the BBR games are unsurprisingly dull (I don't know how exciting anyone could really make a dance game without the excitement that comes from being present when people are playing one), and the film eventually devolves into an equally dull shootout.
There are people who will like The FP. More power to them. Like I said, this is a film that fully realizes everything it wants to do, and does so with a level of commitment that can only be described as "overwhelming." It also feels like a film that buys into its own immature hype, gleefully in love with every new, crude development (did I mention there's a vomiting contest?). The booklet from the Blu-Ray includes quotes from Zombie and the directing team of Neveldine/Taylor, who have made films with the same level of commitment and tend to push similar buttons, but in a Halloween or a Crank, there seemed to be a point. If the The FP had one too, I missed it.
Drafthouse Films and Image Entertainment offer The FP in an attention-grabbing transparent Blu-Ray case, with sweet reversible cover artwork. On one side, you get the film's theatrical poster, and on the other, the Mondo variant with Tyler Stout's artwork. Inside the case, there's a flyer with a code to access a digital copy, and a 16-page booklet featuring those introductions by Zombie, Neveldine, and Taylor, as well as several full-color photographs from the film. Obsessives should also note that Drafthouse Films Blu-Rays have a numbering scheme; The FP is the 3rd of 3 (the second being Bullhead and the first being Four Lions -- I was told via Twitter that those who own the latter will soon have a way to make their collection uniform).
The Video and Audio
This 2.35:1 1080p AVC presentation of The FP has its limitations, but they clearly come from the source material. Visibly shot on digital, the film offers a level of clarity that's almost too much, betraying some of the cheaper sets and generally looking a bit "harsh." Fine detail is through the roof. Colors are strong, but contrast could be stronger. I noticed a moire pattern or two and a tiny bit of posterization, but nothing to get up in arms about.
A DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is where the disc really shines. Most of The FP takes place in underground clubs with the music blasting, and this mix completely nails the pulsing, thudding, yell-over-the-music experience without ever becoming overpowering or obnoxious. The music envelops the viewer with the voices cutting through from the center channels, and the subwoofer will make your floor vibrate. There are also some interesting aural tweaks during the drug sequence, and some decent mayhem during the shootout at the end of the movie. A standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and English subtitles are also provided.
An audio commentary with Brandon and Jason Trost is a pretty laid-back affair, with the brothers casually chatting about whatever's on-screen, like real folks from The FP appearing on screen, the '80s films the film references, explanations of the film's ridiculous dialogue, and on-set minutia.
"Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished" (35:44, HD) is a series of three featurettes ("The Making of The FP," "Costume Designing The FP: Interview with Sarah Trost," and "Scoring in The FP: Interview with Composer George Holcroft") with a Play All option delving into the making of The FP. Despite my reservations about the film itself, these are short, sweet little documentaries that really highlight the enthusiasm of the crew, the overall experience of making the movie, and reveal that, yes, all of these people seem perfectly normal and well-adjusted, especially Lee Valmassey, who is almost unrecognizably soft-spoken. "The FP in The FP: A Return to Frazier Park" (10:30, HD) is separate from the doc, following the Trost Brothers around the actual Frazier Park and a little of a post-screening Q&A, and offers the only look (behind a pair of shades) of Jason without his trademark eyepatch.
No trailers play before the main menu. Both the red-band and green-band original theatrical trailers for The FP is also included.
Look, I'm giving The FP a half a star. There's no question that I didn't like it. It's an offensive, obnoxious movie. Still, I will grant that the extras prove that this is not a case of ineptitude or people who just are obnoxious or stupid. The things that drove me nuts are part of the point. If someone enjoys this movie, it won't be an accident, it will be the oh-so-narrow sensibilities of that viewer aligning with that of the directors. Given that (and the general quality of the A/V and extras on the disc), I'm willing to stop short of slapping the movie with the lowest rating. If you've watched both the green-band and red-band trailers, and you still think this is the movie for you, rent it...with extreme caution.
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