The FP (2011)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The FP</strong> (2011)

(On Cable TV, July 2014) The problem with a high concept is that it isn’t in itself a guarantee of success. In order to succeed, it needs to answer “And then?” in at least two ways: the high concept has to be fleshed out in a satisfying fashion (“And then why?”), and it has to lead to something beyond the high concept (“And then what?”). Alas, while The FP takes on an absurdly high concept (rival gangs fighting over control of California’s Frazier Park by playing a Dance-Dance-Revolution clone), it also chooses to play the absurdity completely straight. While there’s an admirable rigor to the way the filmmakers end up producing something that feels like an overblown eighties-Hollywood-style underdog comeback epic on a $50,000 budget, the pleasantly bizarre dichotomy between its urban speak and low-rent rural setting, bargain-basement sets versus florid ambitions can’t quite answer the subsequent “And then?” By choosing to leave the comedy at a high level and to deliver the actual film in a serious deadpan, The FP creates an impression of emptiness –sure, it’s a joke, but it’s still one joke and it’s been the same joke since the first five minutes of the film. Coupled with the ultra-low-budget aesthetics, the urban-slang dialogues and the familiar boilerplate structure, The FP sets itself up for unfavourable comparisons. Which is a bit of a shame, because writer/director pair the Trost brothers have some promising skills: The FP looks pretty good for the budget they had and the film is put together competently. It’s hard to dislike a film so low-budget that it shows as a labour of love, and so I’ll be curious to see their next efforts. Still, The FP itself is often too dull to create much enthusiasm — After watching it, it’s hard not to feel as if I’ve wasted my time.

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