At 25: “Repossessed”

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September 14, 2015 by billysparrow



Released: September 14, 1990

Starring: Leslie Nielsen, Linda Blair, Ned Beatty, Anthony Starke, Lana Schwab

It is hard to believe that in the waning days of the summer of 1990, a movie starring Leslie Nielsen was released and I didn’t know about it. I was deep into my Leslie Nielsen fandom at that point, and if you had asked me that summer what my favorite movie was, “The Naked Gun” almost certainly would have been the answer. So, how was it that “Repossessed” was released in theaters and I didn’t know about it?

Well, first of all, it doesn’t seem like it was released into too many theaters, and didn’t last long in the ones it did make it to, bringing in a remarkably unimpressive $1,382,462 according to IMDB.

Second, it’s not a very good movie.

As a devoted Leslie Nielsen fan, it pains me to say that. But my 25th anniversary viewing leaves me no choice.

Though I did not see “Repossessed” in its theater run, I did see it soon after it came out on video. And I recall enjoying it a lot. I realize now that that assessment might in fact have largely been determined by the fact that the movie not only featured Leslie Nielsen, but also included prolonged cameos from Mean Gene Okerlund and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. It would have been impossible for me to hate a movie with those three people in it when I was 14 years old. Maybe up until 18. At some point after that, I started to get a little more discerning about these things. I truly can’t decide if that’s good or bad. I would like to still be living a life when the thought of Mean Gene being in a movie thrilled me. Then again, I don’t think he’s been in a lot of movies since “Repossessed,” so maybe it still holds true. Take a chance on Mean Gene, Hollywood.

Anyway, back to the movie. It is a parody of “The Exorcist,” buoyed by the fact that it actually stars Linda Blair. So, bonus points for that. Nielsen plays Father Jedediah Mayii (if “Father Mayii” makes you laugh, this may be your movie), who performed the original exorcism on Blair’s character when she was a child and is being lured out of retirement when Satan reinhabits her body and the young priest (played by Anthony Starke, best known, I’m guessing, for being Jimmy in that episode of “Seinfeld”) doesn’t think he is up for the exorcism.

There are a few gags that made me laugh, chief among them a scene where a guy backs up on one of those reverse tire damage strips and is immediately besieged by a bunch of spare tires (maybe you have to see it; YouTube will not help you do so) and one where someone saying “Cue the announcer” is followed by the announcer being poked by a pool cue (it probably wouldn’t help if you saw that; it just makes me laugh). But there are a lot of gags that fall flat, as is almost always the problem in a parody movie that is not a Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker production. Movies like this one definitely make you appreciate the “Airplane” and “Naked Gun” movies” more.

One of the things about the movie that has stuck with me through the years is its theme song, though I’m not sure why. It’s not particularly good, or even all that catchy, but “Re-re-re-repossessed” has been lodged in a crevice of my brain since 1990. Here it is.

Research (i.e., Wikipedia) shows that the song was cowritten (with Cindy Valentine, who sings it) by Charles Fox. Who is Charles Fox, you ask? Well, he cowrote “Killing Me Softly With His Song” and “I Got a Name” with Norman Gimbel. But, more importantly, he cowrote the theme songs to “Happy Days” and “Laverne & Shirley” with Gimbel and cowrote the theme to “The Love Boat” with Paul Williams. What a guy! I don’t know how he wound up getting involved with “Repossessed,” but, if nothing else, the fact that he did is compelling me to buy Fox’s autobiography. So something good came out of it.

I should point out that Nielsen isn’t bad in the movie. He, as always, does the best he can with what he’s given. There’s just not much given.

Ned Beatty, as the Jim Bakker-esque Ernest Weller, is given even less, which seems an even bigger waste. But there is a cameo from Wally George, and it’s always exciting to remember he existed.

Everything culminates in one of the dumber endings to a movie you’ll ever see. God help you if you need a Spoiler Alert, but if you require it, there it is. The whole thing ends when it is decided that the only thing that can drive the devil out is rock and roll. What? When was that decided? I thought the devil liked rock and roll. If he doesn’t, what music does he like? So many questions. Well, here is how the devil is defeated.

Oh boy.

There’s a closing scene after that, mainly to add one last projectile-vomiting gag (and I use “gag” as neither a pun nor an accurate assessment of what it was), and then after a mercifully short 80 minutes, it’s over.

Last week, I probably would’ve recommended you watch “Repossessed,” but I’m pretty sure I can’t do that to you now. I will point out that Mean Gene does say “Nice tits” in it, so if you want to see that (and I can’t say that I would blame you), have at it. Otherwise, maybe just go watch an episode of “Police Squad!” instead.


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