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Repo Man
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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

here is a stab at explaining the movie

Author: depunkerboy from United States
22 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Here's a raw stab at explaining it:

The 64 Malibu is the thing. The lovely little Chevy itself is a classic, a real gem in a sea of 80's downsized, emissions-lowered, cookie cutters, but it contains the promise of something even more 'classical' and that is TRUTH, MEANING, etc., all that is lacking in Otto's world, which is this world, our world, and a not very 'intense' world, save that it is intensely boring. What the car contains of course is Alien intelligence. Something from beyond this world and even beyond the usual concept of a heaven (the car actually zaps a Bible at the end, though it may not be the 'real' Bible it zaps, perhaps the car is merely angry at how we read it?). I think that the car is a 64 is also no coincidence. The failed promise of the 60's might still be hiding in it. From the looks of early 80's LA we get in the movie we are led to believe Cox regards that era as a wasteland.

Otto, like all good punks, hates EVERYTHING, except hate, which, though he may not know it, is really not hate, but a reservation for some unspeakable divine which we come closer to at least by rejecting it's false forms. It is only when Bud teaches him the 'Repo code' and it's many corollaries (no commies, no Christians either, ordinary effing ppl, look at em. I hate them. And so on.) that he begins to realize that there is something in THIS world, beyond our superficial culture, yet hidden, inextricably within it, worth standing up for. Otto soon rejects his old friends, who were mindless haters, as it were. We see the consequences of that life when his old punked-out friend is dying and he makes the speech about him being nothing more than a suburban punk.

Otto is finding a reason to live. He is slowly building a moral foundation of sorts. It is not a mature morality, both the code and Bud are no doubt full of holes, but it's a start. The kind of start a kid like Otto might really hook into. Otto has to start this process from the ground up because he certainly isn't going to accept anything on faith from his parent's generation, and perhaps he should not. He starts to dress well, not because it's 'dignified' to dress 'well', but because it makes the job of stealing er . . repoing cars from the people who can't pay for them easier. I suppose the reward for getting all of this is the Malibu - the great repo in the sky, so to speak, and the reason, higher still, for having lived the code. But what really is in the Malibu?

What Miller teaches him about time machines and UFO's and 'coincidences' sounds like a simple-minded sort of new age philosophy, just like you would expect from a burned-out, homeless, ex-hippie, but it turns out Miller is a sort of prophet/savant and is actually in possession of the invisible key to the Malibu. Miller has never driven a car until now ('the more you drive the less intelligent you become') He is a driving virgin. He has saved himself for this moment when the REAL car arrives. "Driving" I think means both actual driving but also striving/living. Why do something so expensive, wasteful and dangerous as driving when there is really no where to go and nothing worth doing that you need to drive to? This is in the vein of "the farther one travels, the less one knows".

At the end Otto and Miller are chosen by the car and beam the fcuk out of here. Otto: this is intense! Miller; (matter of factly) 'The life of a repo man is always intense'. Has God (the Aliens?) given up on us? Will they come back for us with the answer? Is Cox simply saying 'this place is fcuked so get out if you can." I'm not sure. I suspect Cox is skeptical about our prospects (the cold war was still going on back then, we lived with the possibility that many thousands of nukes could launch at any moment) and is looking for help 'from beyond', if there is any to be found, but I don't think he is actually the type to worship aliens. That part is a metaphor for something else - something we will have to find here. I do think he is telling us something about where to look for the actual way but in the tradition of anti-metaphysical philosophy the telling is not so explicit. It's a more zen-like no telling. Or maybe he is just mocking the above and mocking me?

I'm not sure. I think it manages to be both somehow. I don't know what it says about me but the epiphany at the end seems both absurd and real to me. I laugh and I cry. Maybe Cox himself had no idea about 'saying' anything and just made what he saw in his mind's eye. I love this movie!

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14 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Serious plots? Try serious punk.

Author: ACEandaRAG from United States
3 March 2006

Repo Man is a good film for anyone who likes punk, drugs, stealing cars or humor. Watching this movie made me laugh and glow with happiness.As I was watching the terrible plot unfold i realized that the movie was not really about the plot to me ; No, this movie far exceeds serious focus on plots. This move instead focused on Emelio stealing cars, railing speed and drinking warm beer. The dialog is quite funny and entertaining, and the plot is unbelievably ridiculous. This soundtrack is punk. The circle jerks, Black flag...I rest my case. This movie is Punk. Emilio is punk. You and your friends should watch this movie and have a TV party, aha. But remember, real punks are way too punk for friends. I've had it.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Insanity/Genius...and the sheer definition of "cult movie".

Author: barfly99 ( from London, England
12 April 2000

This isn't an unequivocal classic like CITIZEN KANE or THE GODFATHER, because I can perfectly understand why a lot of people just wouldn't get it. But for those of us on REPO MAN's own peculiar wavelength it IS a classic, and the fact that it is so strange and mad and silly and profound and hilarious all at the same time puts it into a category of brilliant cinema all of its own. No doubt non-believers will find this tiresome, but it is almost impossible to like this film and not quote lines of dialogue from it at every opportunity. If that wasn't enough reason for its status as THE cult movie of all time, there are punk icons to be heard AND seen ("I can't believe I used to like these guys!"), a startling revelation about John Wayne, the labeling on the food and drink, and the not unrelated naming of major characters after beers (Miller, Bud, Lite)! Intensity is only one of this film's many, many virtues...

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A modern "cult" classic

Author: MBunge from Waterloo, Iowa
11 October 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Repo Man is one of the granddaddies of the modern concept of "cult" films, so how much you enjoy this film will depend on whether you prefer classic "cult" or the new interpretation of that phenomenon.

It used to be that "cult" movie were bad movies that a small number of people liked an awful lot. They were generally not well acted or well written or well directed but there was something about them that a distinct minority of the audience would embrace and cherish. Maybe it was the basic idea of the story or a particular character or scene but there would be something that would catch the attention of a few while most viewers simply considered the film a piece of crap. That definition has changed in the last couple of decades. A "cult" movie is no longer a bad film that has a small but devoted audience. "Cult" now signifies a deliberate weirdness and a disinterest or refusal to be conventionally entertaining. No longer attempts at normal filmmaking that failed, "cult" movies today are never meant to or try to appeal to broad audiences. The whole goal is now to be as distinctively odd and incomprehensible as possible.

While certainly not the first modern "cult" film, Repo Man is one of the first widely known and established some of the conventions of the modern "cult" genre. In a very generic sense, the movie is about the coming of age of Otto (Emilio Estevez) a young punk who tires of his life working days at a grocery store and nights slam dancing with his fellow losers. By chance, Otto falls in with Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), a repo man who brings Otto into the business and tries to teach him the "repo code". While that's going on a bunch of federal agents are trying to find a 1964 Chevy Malibu with some alien corpses in the trunk and there's also another side story where three of Otto's former punk friends embark on a crime spree that turns into the worst afterschool special of all time.

There's a lot of weird stuff in Repo Man. All the federal agents are blonde except for the lead agent who has a metal hand. Everything the characters eat or drink comes out of a generic package. A grimy mechanic dispenses zen wisdom and the repo men have an angry debate over whether or not John Wayne was a "fag". If you take out the weirdness, this is a terrible movie. The story is haphazard and none of the actors except Harry Dean Stanton ever get much chance to emote, and he's basically stuck reciting lame theories about the way of the world to Otto. But with all the strangeness, I can definitely see the appeal.

You'd certainly need to be the right age and the right attitude to be grabbed by the story "eff the world" outlook on the pointlessness and absurdity of life, but it also helps to be old enough to remember what the 1980s felt like to people who weren't in tune with Ronald Reagan's new America. With its blaring punk soundtrack and its wallowing in oddity, Repo Man is definitely an acquired taste. But it you can acquire it, it is pretty tasty.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

A movie released 20 years too early

Author: qljsystems from England
1 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When I first saw this movie on TV in 1985, I remember feeling freaked out and intimidated by its initially disjointed feel, indy-film quality scenes loosely glued together into a rather amorphous plot, the aggressive characters and Emilio Estevez's performance as a cynical vehicle repossession man. The movie left me feeling hollow and emotionally drained, until I breathed a sigh of relief when the coveted Chevy Malibu finally turned into the fantastic UFO that seemed to underpin the jerky plot.

Watching it for a second time, in 2006, I realise how remarkably contemporary this movie actually is. This can only be accounted for by the fact that it embodies some of the postmodern values that are common in many of today's movies. The characters seem less volatile, Estevez's repo man is an icon of our modern times (disenchanted with his job and with values in general), and the sound-bite interplay between the characters fits into today's mixed-up, muddled-up world.

This leads me to the conclusion that Repo Man isn't as much a cult movie as it was a movie ahead of its time, released 20 years too soon, embodying values that are more relevant to today's society than during it's first release. Only in the 1990's did movies depicting America's seething underbelly of racial and social tension and disaffection hit mainstream cinemas. This could be taken to indicate that Alex Cox recognised a movie-style that had yet to be exploited. It could be argued, of course, that Repo Man was the inspiration for a host of other movies to come, which created the trend we now accept as mainstream.

As with Estevez's protagonist, the individuals who are suffering the repossession of their vehicles are equally cavalier and unconscienable, such as a millionnaire who's missed payments for 6 months running and an elderly African American lady who spins out a sob-story.

It's only downfall, if it could be regarded as such, is the outdated special effects, making Repo Man a prime candidate for a remake with modern effects, but with the same plot, dialogue and action. However, would this go down well with the fans? That remains to be seen.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A true audience divider – terrific cult satire in the eyes of some, unpalatable mess in the eyes of others.

Author: Jonathon Dabell ( from Todmorden, England
27 April 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

How does one go about describing Repo Man? Is it a comedy? Is it a science fiction film? Is it a drama about alienated youth? Is it a surreal urban fantasy? The answer is that at various times it manages to be all of the above, plus several other things as well. Repo Man refuses to be pigeon-holed into any specific genre. Its narrative is intentionally scattershot, its characters and situation deliberately eccentric, and for many viewers this might prove too great an obstacle in the path to their enjoyment. However, certain scenes have tremendous visual impact and throughout the movie the dialogue is hilarious and cleverly philosophical.

Punk youth Otto (Emilio Estevez) – whose attitude towards all authority figures is one of disrespect - is fired from a tedious supermarket job after being impudent to the boss. He plans to use some money promised him by his parents to fund a little travelling, but learns that they have given it all away to a TV evangelist. Frustrated, Otto leaves home and whilst wandering the streets is approached by a car repossession agent called Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) who tricks him into driving a repossessed car back to headquarters. Soon after, Otto is offered a job working as a repo man. Initially he doesn't warm to the idea of taking on what he perceives to be an honest, decent, law-abiding job. But he quickly comes to realise that being a repo man basically amounts to being a legally-empowered car thief. The job brings with it more excitement than his punk lifestyle – he uses drugs, he gets into car chases, gets into fights, gets to drive cool cars, and to top it all gets well paid for it. He also gets to hang out with the other repo men – bad ass dudes with fast mouths and tough reputations. Otto soon finds himself caught up in the hunt for a Chevy Malibu, so sought after that its repossession value is a staggering $20,000. Various parties are out to get the vehicle, including Otto's bunch, government agents, UFO cultists and a rival repo company fronted by the Rodriguez brothers. Turns out that the car in question has some radioactive aliens stuffed in its trunk…..

The actual story of Repo Man doesn't hang together in the slightest, nor is it meant to. It starts out more-or-less coherent, but as the film goes on the plot matters (and means) less and less and less. The film evolves into an experience rather than a story – crazy little exchanges of dialogue provide a telling social commentary; outrageously over-the-top events illustrate, in dark and satirical terms, the attitudes of the 1980s youth culture; an exciting punk soundtrack accompanies the on-screen madness. Estevez gives one of his earliest and best performances as Otto, while Stanton as the more experienced repo man is just fantastic. Many viewers will find the film's conclusions too bleak, but for audiences of a certain generation it captures perfectly their frustration with the systems around them. Some viewers will be driven to the exits by the disorientating narrative, while others will simply listen to the dialogue and soundtrack with a knowing smile. Some viewers will groan about violence, foul language and anarchy – which the movie contains in abundance – while others will recognise these things as a sad but real characteristic of the times. Repo Man is a film that you'll either like or hate – a cult classic in the eyes of some, an irredeemable one-star dog in the eyes of others.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

You must see this prophetic objet d'art

Author: paul vincent zecchino from Manasota Key, Florida
10 July 2007

Does repo man hold up after twenty three years? No. It has become prophecy in celluloid. Were ours a just society, laws would require DVD players to be sold with Dr. Strangelove, Rebecca, The Wizard of Oz, Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, and, most crucially, repo man.

Watch repo man until you tire of it. You won't. You'll demand more viewings. Every look begets another nuance. Young Estevez' wild laugh infects your psyche. Harry Dean Stanton's grim, Cold-War 'Repo Code' perfectly straddles sublime Cy Richardson's understated, post-funk melancholia and Tom Finnegan's surrealistic, dead-on confrontation with end-time reality.

The late Fox Harris' Treatise on Radiation, "Everybody could stand a hundred chest X-Rays a year - and they should have them!", was profound in '84. Today? Time proved him to be inspired.

Can you refute Tracy Walter's, "You'll find one in every car"? I can't. His assertion, astute in '84, is, today vindicated, as our so-called 'culture' vainly tries to cover the pandemic stench of Unbridled Capitalism with paper baubles.

By the by, weren't Hermanos Rodriguez harbingers of cultural infarct?

Fox Harris' 'J. Frank Parnell' is loosely based on Sam Cohen, developer of the Neutron Bomb. Dr. Cohen has reportedly viewed repo man dozens of times. Sam Cohen loves it all the more each time. A smart man.

Women with mechanical hands. Guys dressed like detectives, who shoot blanks, put themselves into tense situations, and don't care who threatens to shove their dog's head down the toilet. repo man has these essential societal elments, and more. repo man is a celluloid neutron bomb. it destroys societal pretensions and leaves us laughing, albeit wiser. repo man is the Lattice of Coincidence which binds doomsday to elation, specifics to vagaries, and folly to timelessness.

Dr. Paul Vincent Zecchino

Manasota Key, Florida

10 July, 2007

'no soy medico'

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A classic

Author: (dj_bassett) from Philadelphia
29 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Classic punk comedy stars Emilio Estevez (in the single best thing he ever did) as an aimless young punk who gets involved with a bunch of whackjob repo men, led by a hilarious Harry Dean Stanton. Sort of what comedy would look like in an alternative universe where punk ruled. Full of visual gags, running jokes (I like the digs at Scientology), absurd scenarios, and pop-culture junk – in fact, director Cox sees the world, apparently, as a playground constructed out of the underbelly of culture: punk rock, conspiracy theories, ufology, cults, car chases, gun play, and the like. One of the more life-affirming movies I know; a movie that it's pretty damn hard to dislike. Comes complete with a gimcrack push towards transcendence at the end. Highly recommended.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The best movie - EVER!

Author: DCNate from Fairfax, Virginia
15 September 1999

Repo Man is - no joke- my absolute number one favorite movie of all time. I think I've seen it between 25 and 35 times and I can recite most of the movie while I'm watching it. Absolutely the weirdest, funniest, most punk rock movie in existence. Every actor is great in every minor role and excellent quotable quotes abound throughout. Plate o' shrimp. It may take a watch or two before you get what is going on but its even enjoyable on a scene by scene basis, with tons of funny out of left field stuff, like "food". The soundtrack rages of course with Black Flag and Suicidal Tendencies on it. What more can I say - see it or be a loser.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

"Getting" Repo Man

Author: sly2kusa from United States
30 April 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is without a doubt the movie of my adolescence. I first saw it in theaters back in Southern CA where I grew up during the second wave of the Punk era (80-85).

A lot of people who have heard of Repo Man that I speak with today claim to just not "get it". It's kind of hard to describe what this meant to those of us living in the Reagan Era of the 1980's. You have to remember - The Cold War wasn't over, The Berlin Wall had not fallen, and Nuclear War was still a scary reality that could have happened back at the time this movie was made.

Repo Man is more than just a cult film though - it's a masterpiece that you have to give full props to Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton (who wasn't even originally slated to play Bud) for having the foresight to be in.

Put it this way - if you like Punk Rock, and enjoyed all the antics that went with that life style back then (not the punk of today) then this is a must see film. It will remind you of a lot of what was both good and bad about the 80's, and forever stick in your mind as one of the better soundtracks to the sub-culture.

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