Constructed almost entirely out of geeky references, the shake-and-bake cult movie The FP pays homage to John Carpenter, The Warriors, The Road Warrior, A Clockwork Orange, and the montage-filled, Eastern-influenced action movies of the 1980s. It does so much winking, it could be diagnosed with an eye infection. Many of the films it evokes are themselves pre-fab cult movies, from Carpenter’s Snake Plissken (a modern updating of a swaggering John Wayne) to the cartoonish goons in The Warriors who terrorize the city in uniforms and clown makeup. Yet those movies all moved forward on genuine narrative conviction, whereas The FP feels like a junky, disposable lark, created for a midnight audience to swallow, belch, and forget about the next morning.
Expanding their 2007 short film—a format that seems like a more natural fit for this idea—writer-director brothers Jason and Brandon Trost are at least skilled imitators, and their infectiously silly tone carries The FP as far as it goes. Their biggest mistake may be casting Jason Trost as JTRO, the eyepatch-donning Plissken-like hero; without anything like Kurt Russell’s winning machismo in the Escape From New York, Trost simply looks wooden. In future Frazier Park, California, a dystopian wasteland that combines Mad Max’s aridness with Idiocracy’s mouth-breathing debasement, JTRO and his crew square off against gang leader L Dubbe E (Lee Valmassy) in to-the-death (or to-exhaustion) sessions of Beat Beat Revelation. (It’s basically the same as Dance Dance Revolution, except with less likelihood of prompting a lawsuit against The FP’s filmmakers.) The rivals also fight over an adorable trailer-trash punk (Caitlyn Folley) with a bad reputation.
The Trosts are resourceful in turning dilapidated trailers and sheet-metal shanties into the broken-down world of the future, and the dialogue, which costs nothing, invents a dopey slanguage that appropriates hip-hop for everyday use. (JTRO’s best friend is an obnoxious MC who carries a mic and acts as his hype-man.) The FP earns a few modest snickers from the goofiness of not one but two Rocky-like montage scenes of JTRO training for Beat Beat glory, but the videogame confrontation is so ineffectual that it has no impact at all. When everything is couched in an ironic joke, the dramatic stakes tend to evaporate.