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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Father Brophy: Father, what about your heart?
DVD ReviewIn 1973, Linda Blair made cinematic history with her unforgettable portrayal of possessed Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist. Of course, her cinematic legacy was tarnished a bit by the 1977 sequel in which she returned to the role. In 1990, William Peter Blatty filmed a third part to his tale of Satanic occupation, and since there wasn't a part for Blair apparently she did the next best thing and took the lead in this hilarious parody of The Exorcist and the copycats that followed.
Nancy Aglet (Blair), having survived her exorcism 17 years earlier, begins to experience symptoms of repossession after Satan leaps out of her television as she watches televangelists Ernest Weller (Ned Beatty) and Fannie Mae Weller (Lana Schwab). Young and inept priest Luke Brophy (Anthony Starke) is called in to attempt to deal with the possessing demon, but is forced to call Father Jedediah Mayii (Leslie Nielsen), her original exorcist, out of retirement despite his bad heart. But the Wellers want to get into the act too, and concoct a scheme to televise the ritual as "Exorcism Tonight."
This summary doesn't sound terribly funny, I recognize, but the picture is packed with yucks in much the same manner as the Airplane! films, with one sight or verbal gag following fast on another. While they're not all winners they keep flying past at a frenetic rate. There are of course the expected pea-soup and head-spinning gags, but director/writer Bob Logan has a much broader target. The film takes swings at just about all of pop culture, telegraphing his intentions from the first second with the fake THX logo at the opening. The dialogue is crisp, and there are plenty of little touches that reward a viewing (including the exorcists hanging a motel 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the bedroom door as they enter). But despite the broad range of humor, the very funniest bits are specific to the exorcist film genre, with a terrific recreation of the original film that culminates in Nielsen's ridiculously long fall down a flight of stairs. The one segment that just doesn't work is a long section of Father Mayii working out at a gym to get back into shape for the ritual; it feels like filler and mostly deals with repetitive and lowbrow sex jokes.
Blair goes through the exercise with a positive attitude and seems to be having an exceedingly good time with the goofiness. Nielsen is in his element, but really doesn't get a lot to do. He does manage to don an amazing array of silly costumes, though. The flashback structure does help by keeping him onscreen as narrator during segments that focus on Nancy and Father Brophy. Ned Beatty gets second billing but can't have even five minutes of screen time. He and Schwab make a great team as they take off on Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. A variety of minor notables also appear as themselves, including then-not-yet Governor Ventura as providing a wrestling play-by-play to the exorcism.
I came at this not expecting much and was very pleasantly surprised by how funny it was. The humor isn't highbrow by any means, but anyone who enjoys the Zucker style of comedy will find a lot to like here. Despite the PG-13 rating, there is substantial nudity on display here, so I'm not convinced that this is actually a theatrical cut.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: Artisan provides a 1.33:1 transfer that appears to be open matte; it can be blown up to fit a 16:9 television without losing any important information so it doesn't appear to be pan & scan. As usual, Artisan gives their confusing and contradictory description of what the aspect ratio is, which is singularly unhelpful to anyone trying to determine whether it's presented properly (it's not). There's a fair amount of grain and aliasing, and some minor dust. Shadows are rather plugged up and the video is quite lacking in texture. Rainbows are frequently visible as well, and there's even a tape roll at one point in the proceedings. Shabby, but serviceable.
Image Transfer Grade: C-
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Surround audio track carries a substantial amount of noise and hiss. Bass is decent, though presence tends to be lacking. During the "Exorcism Tonight" sequences the surrounds provide some significant directionality, which had been rather lacking before that point.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Extras Review: Other than fairly good chaptering, there are no extras at all.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsA surprisingly entertaining sendup of the exorcism genre as well as the rest of pop culture from the Clapper to Star Wars. The transfer is mediocre, and there aren't any extras, though, so a rental is probably advisable.
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