The FP is an important film… but I’m not entirely sure why. Granted, it has the distinction of being the only film about Southern California’s Frazier Park (the titular FP), hometown of writers/directors, the Trost Bros. But it goes further than that. With its ludicrous characters and endless series of hysterical narrative contrivances, The FP stands as perhaps the single most effective 1980s revival piece in modern cinema without having been adapted from an existing 80s pop culture text like The A-Team or Miami Vice. And yet, it still exhibits all the components of a truly memorable 80s film.
Specifically, The FP recalls the sort of cinematic genre amalgamation that prospered in the 1980s, such as Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon. Now I know others have made the following specific connection before, but I simply couldn’t get Streets of Fire out of my head while watching The FP. While its narrative differs heavily from Streets of Fire, The FP truly is its modern day, stylistic equivalent, particularly in its nonchalant manner of genre-blending. Simply remove the 50s, greaser aesthetic of Streets of Fire, replace it with Dance Dance Revolution and small town gangstas, and you’ve got yourself The FP. So much a product of this 80s aesthetic is The FP, in fact, that the film includes numerous training montages recalling those popularized by the Rocky series, and it features a distinctly John Carpenter-esque score, reminiscent of They Live and Escape from New York in particular.
But to what end? What story could possibly warrant such a careful reappropriation of an entire decade’s cinematic tropes? Only the most incredible story ever told, of course! This is the tale of the 245 and the 248, two rival gangs who battle for control of The FP, not with guns or knives, but with Beat Beat Revelation, the illest, most 187-in’ video game around. Indeed, lives are lost and reputations are earned on the dance pads of BBR. And it’s there that 248 member JTRO (Jason Trost) must prove himself the worthy successor of his fallen brother’s mantle as BBR champion, and wrest The FP from the control of the 245’s L Dubba E. For only by besting L Dubba E can JTRO bring booze back to the people!
Now hold up. I know it sounds ludicrous (and admittedly it is), but the film succeeds in weaving this particular narrative in no small part because the entire thing is played totally straight. The characters dress ridiculously and speak in a highly-stylized gangsta lingo, and yet the performers bring nothing but the utmost seriousness to their individual roles– within the confines of the incredibly comedic script, of course. And the Trost Bros., as directors, got their backs. As the Trosts match the actors’ seriousness filmically at every turn, they are ultimately able to transform the overall sincerity of the piece into comedic gold.
So successful are the Trosts in the creation of their unique filmic world, in fact, that the only major problems I had with the film didn’t surface until the closing minutes. Unfortunately, my interest in the characters peaked at the climactic “Beat-off” and steadily waned right up until the film’s final shot. Action, as it happens, isn’t really the film’s strong suit, and those final minutes rely on it heavily. Fortunately, The FP‘s final shot (and I won’t give anything away here) makes up for much of the third act’s stumbling.
Image Entertainment’s Blu-ray and DVD releases of The FP, available June 19th, 2012, include a booklet featuring three introductions by directors Rob Zombie, Mark Neveldine, and Brian Taylor, which speaks volumes about The FP, especially with regards to its generic/stylistic roots. The Image release (at least the Blu-ray release, anyway) also boasts reversible cover art, something of which I’m always fond. The secondary cover art adheres to the modern grindhouse poster aesthetic in keeping with the film’s poster. Special features include a making-of documentary, an interview with costume designer Sarah Trost, an interview with composer George Holdcraft, the theatrical trailer, audio commentary by the Trost Bros., and the featurette, “The FP in The FP: A Return to Frazier Park,” in which the Trosts return to The FP to screen the very film that the town inspired.