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"The VelociPastor" Review

After the dour The Batman, we were looking for something lighter when almost immediately Peacock offered up The VelociPastor which has this as its official blurb: "After losing his parents, a priest travels to China, where he inherits a mysterious ability that allows him to turn into a dinosaur. At first horrified by this new power, a prostitute convinces him to use it to fight crime. And ninjas."Alrightee then! A brief 70-minutes later we can say that it definitely has what it advertised on the tin, except more so for it's both a B-movie AND a straight-faced parody of zero-budget B-movies. 

It announces its intentions right out of the gate as Father Doug (Greg Cohan) is shown waving to his parents standing by their car and then an off-camera boom occurs, Doug looks horrified, then they cut back to an empty frame of the street with the notation "VFX CAR ON FIRE." Three times. After fellow priest Father Stewart (Daniel Steere who should be first pick for a John Bolton biopic) consoles him, "So your parents died, Doug. It's what parents do. They die on you," he decides to go to China which we know is China because a big title card screaming "CHINA" is put up and Doug says, "China." No stock footage of the Great Wall; just their say-so. 

While there he encounters a dying Chinese woman who hands him a tooth which scratches his hand. Suddenly he's back in his parish bed, haunted by nightmares with no idea how he got there. He quickly finds out why when he saves a hooker (Alyssa Kampinski) who was being mugged in the park. By turning into a dinosaur. And eating the mugger. Hijinks ensue!

Made for a reported $11,000, writer-director Brendan Steere manages to make it look like at least half as much on the screen. With a cast marginally better than the "actors" in Clerks - though to be fair Cohan and Kampinski are good enough that they have 25-35 IMDB credits each, albeit mostly playing SWAT #3, Woman, and Reporter #2 - The VelociPastor successfully balances the tightrope between mocking cheap genre movies and simply being a bad cheap genre movie. 

It's got enough intentional laughs and doesn't overstay its welcome - take that, Judd Apatow. Some of the gags are so subtle I suspect people dissing it in IMDB user reviews didn't get what they were watching. For example, during the opening credits Doug is shown driving with obvious rear projection screen footage, but that's not the joke - what cracked me up was that they were shining lights on the car to simulate passing streetlights when the background footage is broad daylight. Don't worry though, there are plenty of obvious gags like the whooshing sound effects over the ninja army - all two of them in their homemade ninja costumes - training exercises and the backstory of what drove Father Stewart to the priesthood is Airplane-grade nutty.

I'm genuinely surprised Steere has no credits after this 2018 film. I don't mean to make it sound like he's the next Sam Raimi or even Kevin Smith, but considering how much money gets wasted making direct-to-video dreck and paying stars like poor Bruce Willis a million bucks for a couple of days "work" repeating lines fed to him by earpiece so they can put his face on the poster implying he's the star, why can't someone toss Steere the price of a luxury car to make some more mild entertainment?

Score: 6/10. Catch it on cable. (It's currently on Amazon Prime, the free tier of Peacock, the ad-supported area of Vudu and others.)

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