The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Repo (2010)

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Our friend Kevin from MTI Video asked if I could review this one for him, and from the trailer it looked pretty good, so I thought I'd give it a go.  It stars Jason Mewes, and growing up in the 90s and seeing Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy in the theater, Mewes will always hold a special place in my heart, so at the very least I figured he'd be entertaining, right?

Repo is about Leon (played by Ben Gourley, who also wrote and directed), a down-on-his-luck repo man that was dumped by his fiancee and is trying to get his real estate license but is afraid to take the plunge and take the test.  His buddy (Mewes) is also his coworker, and he's always getting Leon in trouble.  At the same time, Leon owns/is the property manager for (it's not quite clear) an apartment complex, and there's a nice pretty girl (Lindsey McKeon) living there that he has a thing for.  But will he screw it up?  Or will his buddy screw it up for him?  Or will they both?

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I think I could be forgiven for thinking this is a Ben Gourley vanity project, and while I'm not going to be that reductive or dismissive, it does hit all the spots: guy who can't get out of his own way, guy afraid to take chances, guy gets the girl, guy screws it up, guy's friend gets him in trouble, guy fixes trouble and gets the girl and has a great life.  I think Gourley was more earnest in making this film than simply a vanity project, but it amounts to the same thing though: the 90s and early 2000s were littered with films like this, and this one doesn't really bring anything new to the table.  If anything, it suffers because Mewes's character is more fun and someone I wanted to see more of, so he made Gourley's Leon less someone I wanted to root for.  Yes, Mewes was a fun time, and it had a few other fun moments too, but we've seen this already, and we've seen it done better 15-20 years ago, so overall it's a pass for me.

One of the things about the Mewes character that I was reminded of was how much he invented that style of sidekick or buddy with his Jay character in Kevin Smith's films.  I'm not saying this character here is Jay, what I'm saying is I've seen so many films try to have a Jay-like character in their off-beat independent comedies like this, and that character almost never comes off.  With Mewes though it all works, the only difference here compared to films like Clerks or Mallrats, in those films we had main characters that were more compelling, so we were cool with the bits here and there that we get of Mewes; and while he's a bigger supporting character in this, with a main character that was so vanilla, Mewes becomes the character we want to see, so even the bigger role wasn't enough.

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One of the weird things about this film is that it's called Repo, but it really spends more time at the apartment complex.  Like there isn't a lot of repo'ing going on.  Maybe it should've been called Apartment Complex, or Property Manager, I don't know.  Maybe Leon, but I think that name was taken.  We start off with a nice repo scene, and I thought that's what we had going on, but then we lose that for awhile while we're inundated with all the kooky characters of the apartment complex.  Hey, it's an Italian guy in a speedo!  Hey, it's an aging cougar hitting on our hero!  Hey that guy's overweight and doesn't pay his rent!  Hey, there's the nice pretty girl our hero is going to win at the end of the film!  The repo aspect was the thing that could've made this film not every-film-we've-seen-before, but instead we got the kooky characters at the apartment complex, and that we've all seen enough of.

Lindsey McKeon plays the girl Leon wins, and she does a great job doing the best she can with a classic one note character.  Oh, she's so cute and precocious with her backpack and her thin sweaters with sleeves that go just beyond her wrist and her sweetness and her going to school to be a nurse.  And the only time she's able to inject any personality into the role is when she rejects Leon because the other girl he was seeing (who Mewes paid to date him) comes back and ruins things.  But that's when things get gross and weird.  McKeon's character flatly rejects Leon, and while we know it's a misunderstanding, the fact that he can't take no for an answer and harasses her with flowers and whatnot is problematic, especially when you consider Leon is her landlord and is in a position of power over her.  It's this grossness depicted in movies and other popular media that gives guys the idea that if they just harass a woman enough, she'll breakdown and fall for him; and it's this grossness that forces women to give guys a fake number so they'll leave her alone, or lie and say she has a boyfriend.  In another movie we saw for Kevin at MTI, Slip & Fall, this issue was dealt with much better.  The hero didn't harass the woman, she came back on her own, and as a result it didn't have any of that grossness.  The other thing was, in Repo, they already spent the make-up/break-up nickel, and resolved it in a non-problematic way by McKeon helping Leon after tries to drown himself in the pool.  For some reason they decided to recycle the make-up/break-up thing by having McKeon catch Leon with the other woman again, and that's where they got into trouble.  It was a double whammy of redundancy and grossness, and helped to torpedo a film that was already having trouble.

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Finally, let's look at everyone else, because this movie had a bunch of other people in it.  First off we had Patrick Muldoon, famous on here for getting his ass kicked by Richard Norton in Rage and Honor II, and famous with my girlfriend for being the creepy neighbor in her favorite, Wicked.  He plays a former rock star living in the apartment complex, and he's not bad, especially compared to the other tenants.  Izabella Miko played the woman Mewes hires to date Leon.  Like Mewes, she adds to that vibe that our hero is not compelling, because she has more personality and makes him that much more vanilla.  Then we have Sunny Mabrey as Leon's ex-fiancee.  She's not in it much, and I think she's supposed to be a horrible person, which I guess is how it goes when we want our hero to be the hero.  Finally, Zack Ward has a small role as a local thug.  That's about it.

As of this posting, this won't be out on DVD until December 17, 2013, and I'm assuming like all MTI DVDs you can get it at Red Box and whatnot.  For me it's a pass, mostly because I think we've seen this plenty of times before, but the aspects that were good, especially Jason Mewes's performance, might be enough to make this a Red Box rental for you.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0887161/

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