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Movie Review: Hip-hop dance parody ‘The FP’ is whack, yo

One gets the sensation while watching the low-budget ‘80s parody “The FP” that a bunch of people went trolling at a vintage clothing store one day, found some moon boots, acid-washed jean jackets and neon tank tops and then decided to make a movie about them.

“The FP” makes fun of several genres — dance movies, underdog sports flicks, glossy action pictures — and mixes them together in an attempt at kitschy cult infamy. But rather than crafting a movie that’s so bad it’s good, writer-director brothers Jason and Brandon Trost have come up with something that’s just plain bad — and boring, and repetitive. Once you get past the initial, brief laugh factor of the hideous retro trappings — mullets and bandanas and boom boxes, we were so lame! — it’s painfully obvious there isn’t much left.

And this criticism comes from a proud child of the ‘80s. I loved “Breakin”’ back then, but no one needs a remake of or an homage to “Breakin.”’ We didn’t even need “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo,” although it did provide us with the greatest sequel title ever.

The predominately white characters here talk in the sort of co-opted, clunky hip-hop slang that might have worked for a little while in a sketch but soon grows tiresome. There’s also a certain N-word that gets tossed around casually which “The FP” tries to justify by jokingly claiming it’s an acronym. As an attempt at social commentary, this approach feels half-baked; as comedy, it just feels numbing. Their mantra — “We roll together, we die together” — isn’t all that amusing the first time, and the committed self-seriousness with which it’s repeated doesn’t sell it any more convincingly.

The film is set for no apparent reason in a futuristic wasteland of trailer parks, run-down shacks and warehouse parties known as “The FP” (actually the Southern California mountain town of Frazier Park) where a turf war is raging between trash-talking dance gangs. Jason Trost stars as JTRO (pronounced JAY-tro), who loses his older brother, BTRO (Brandon Barrera) in a deadly “Beat-Beat Revelation” video game showdown with their gold-toothed rival, L Dubba E (Lee Valmassy).

A year later, JTRO is dragged out of hiding to avenge his brother’s death in a rematch, complete with multiple obligatory training montages. Nick Principe plays BLT, his spiritual, Mr. Miyagi-type mentor, while Art Hsu plays KC/DC, who serves as the competition’s hyperactive emcee and annoying Greek chorus. Meanwhile, Caitlyn Folley co-stars as Stacy, the damaged party girl who’s JTRO’s kinda-sorta love interest. All the women here are drunk, trashy idiots, which might be meant as a pointed sendup of that convention, but it’s not terribly encouraging.

Still, Brandon Trost, who also serves as cinematographer, has shot many films before including “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,” “MacGruber” and “Crank: High Voltage,” and he gives everything an appropriately cold, metallic sheen. Sure, “The FP” knows all the steps, but it has no soul.

“The FP,” a Drafthouse Films release, is rated R for pervasive language, sexual content, some nudity and brief drug material. Running time: 83 minutes. One star out of four.

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