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Emilio Estevez is a teenage punk who gets fired from his job as a
supermarket shelf stacker and gets tricked into life as a car
repossession man by old timer Harry Dean Stanton.
What follows is a muddled, boring, uninteresting tale of all sorts of miserable characters on the trail of a 1964 Chevy Malibu - with a $20,000 bounty and a very mysterious cargo.
Estevez sulks his way through the film, and is fairly effective as the young loser, while Stanton is good as his "father figure" and mentor.
All in all not very impressive at all but nevertheless a film with a loyal following from cult British director Alex Cox.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Emilio Estevez's OTHER bad mid-80's movie (the other being MAXIMUM
OVERDRIVE) has no plot that pushes things forward and barely anything
interesting happening other than Estevez's "I'm so cool I don't have to
do anything interesting" schtick. Harry Dean Stanton tries desperately
to be another Cult Movie type father-figure guy, but's he's just not
memorable. The movie tries to appeal to teen audiences by making some
jabs at suburbia, but the effort is simply too small.
But the real weaknesses are the way the Sci-Fi elements are shown and the main character. I know I'm going to seem like a square for saying this, but there simply is nothing to like about the guy. He acts like some punk, but he himself admits he's a bored suburban kid, he treats his sexual partners like trash, he doesn't do anything to help anyone else. Just a waste of life who oddly gets rewarded at the end, probably to appeal to the worthless sections of teen audiences.
The Sci-Fi bits really just seem tacked on and very weak. It all boils down to a trunk and a rotten flying car! Geez, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang had better Sci-Fi.
Repo Man has become one of those films where even though it was savaged
by many critics of the time (not Ebert, he loved it), was met with very
poor box office as well, but now everyone seems to shout that they
loved it back then, always have! It is the very definition of a "cult
movie", a pic that went underground and found its audience, so much so
it burst back above ground and today is still being discovered by an
ever intrigued movie loving audience.
Repo Man was one of a kind, a film that refused to be pigeon holed, a true original. Story for what it's worth has Emilio Estevez as L.A. punk Otto Maddox who gets bluffed into a repo man job. Taken under the wing of Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), Otto gets to become a fully fledged repo man, taking on all the perks and dangers that come with the territory. But when a mysterious 1964 Chevy Malibu arrives on the patch, all bets seem to be off because everyone is either after it or being disintegrated by it!
The life of a repo man is always intense.
OK! Where to start? Offbeat, eccentric, punk, funky, funny, smart? Repo Man is all those things, it dares to be bold and challenging, its satirical edges slicing away at film genres and American societies. Director Alex Cox (how wonderful that such an American film is directed by a British guy) fills out this scuzzy part of L.A. with hippies, freaks, punks, aliens, scientist nutters, UFO nutters, effeminate coppers and the repo men themselves, a bunch of grizzled souls hardened by life's travails, but always with a quip, a smile and a gunshot at the ready.
The dialogue fizzes with cheeky derring-do, some lines even today still quotable and used in pubs and clubs across the continents. Robby Muller's cinematography has snap crackle and pop, as does the rocking soundtrack as Cox invites the likes of Iggy Pop, The Circle Jerks, Black Flag and The Plugz into his weird and wonderful world. Performances are bang on the dollar, Stanton the class act, Estevez superb, Tracey Walter proving what his fans already knew, that he's a legendary character actor.
From an opening involving a pair of smoking boots, to the glowing sci-fi nirvana finale, Repo Man kicks ass. One viewing is never enough, and for sure there are those who have seen it once and hate it to the point of refusing to ever watch it again. That's a shame, because repeat viewings are essential, because the more you watch the more Cox's deliriously cheeky movie makes sense. 9/10
Repo Man !! Well not a bad attempt at low budget sci fi. Its appeal
lies within its strangeness but even more appeal will come from those
who relate to the main character Otto ( Emilio Estevez ) If you can
relate to him you will get more enjoyment out of the film. Otto is a
typical teenage waster who doesn't like taking orders and wants to live
his life by his own rules. At the same time he isn't a bad guy unlike
some of his friends. Otto is the only multi dimensional character in
the film, every other character is some form of stereotype. I use Multi
Dimensional loosely as even the Otto character is barely touched upon
and without reading between the lines can be transparent to most
people. Trying to do Sci Fi on a low budget will always be difficult (
trying to do Sci Fi with a budget is hard enough ). It definitely shows
in Repo Man as the FX is pretty bad, this kind of adds character to the
film but at the same time make it look shoddy. Im sure I could make a
better metal arm myself with stuff i can find at home and some silver
paint. Maybe the point was to make it look silly if so it worked. To
Sum up Repo Man is zeitgeist of the late 70's early 80's ( has more of
a 70's feel to it ) One thing i did notice was how many film
writers/directors have plagiarised many elements from the film and
improve on them in their own way. Paul Thomas Anderson, Quentin
Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Wachowski Brothers amongst others
For that reason it has originality and is different to many films from that era.
I'd give it a 6/10 worth a watch at least once, maybe twice if you want to examine whats on show.
If your into MOVIES blah blah Hollywood give it a miss, if you like film and appreciate it then definitely give this one a go.
This is NOT a film that the average film viewer will love. Many will be
alienated because of the film's strong language and rather amoral
characters. Many will be alienated because the film is so strange
and,....well, strange! But, if you have a high tolerance for these
factors, then you'll no doubt have a great time watching this cult
classic. Just be prepared--this is PROBABLY NOT a film for grandma and
the kiddies! In addition to very harsh language, there is drug use, sex
(though you don't see anything) and violence galore.
The film almost defies description, though I'll try. Emelio Estevez stars as a rather low-key guy who falls into the job of repossessing cars. And, once he takes the job, he finds that the subculture is bizarre. In fact, the people he works for are the most motley crew of freaks you could imagine. And, into the midst of this group of freaks comes a plot about stolen alien corpses and a car trunk that vaporizes anyone who opens it!! Heck, I won't even bother continuing...suffice to say it's just weird.
Overall, while the acting and script occasionally fall flat, the film is funny, twisted and never fails to surprise--particularly the hallucinogenic ending! In addition, the film has a great sound track--one of the best I've heard. It's full of punk music AND retro 50s rifts that I particularly loved. Who would have thought I would have liked music from the likes of Iggy Pop and The Plugz?! Plus, if you really like the tunes, you can buy the special edition which comes with the movie on DVD and a music CD as well.
By the way, as you are watching here are a couple interesting things to note. The food in the movie is all in generic-style containers and say 'food', 'beer' and the like. Also, note when the one punk is dying--listen to his death speech--it's a classic!
Quote from the title song that is. (Hi Iggy.) This movie has "cult
classic" written all over it.
This movie and "Street Trash" have a lot in common. This was first and gore-less though. In both cases it worked.
Repo men grab cars and try to rake in dough finding a Malibu that may or may not have aliens in it. Throw in the government (all blonde guys in suits) and a frazzled scientist (the late Fox Harris) and there's more plot here than it could almost handle.
The script was great however. Classic lines all over the joint. You'll look for reasons to use these quotes I guar-un-tee you.
Also keep an eye out for Cox's little in jokes. This one's chock full of 'em. The only one I noticed without help was the "Plate o' Shrimp" connection.
Why can't they make them like this anymore.
Repo Man DEFINITELY needs to be seen more than once to be thoroughly enjoyed, as the whole thing is too weird to be absorbed and appreciated all at once. The film is basically a comic book made as a film (and the fact that Alex Cox churned out a couple of pages to go with the original script seems to prove that intention). It is the total success of that translation that makes it so repeatedly watchable - the exaggerated characters with their little peculiarities (eg Rodriguez with the hairnet, the agent with the dodgy hand); the stylised, choppy dialogue (not unlike dialogue cut up by comic book frames), the cute generic food products and visual gags; the overall absurdity. Not to mention that I always thought the Otto and Kevin duo beared an uncanny resemblance to Bart and Milhouse.... Emilio Estevez, I think, is responsible for the most quotable "f*** you" I've ever heard, as well as the most angry looking (but hilarious) blink. And the quotes - nothing more needs to be said about those! The soundtrack - FANTASTIC!! All in all, the key to appreciating Repo Man (as with many other films) lies in consciously noting the deliberate departures from reality that the creators have taken. Otherwise it will all wash over you in a wave of incomprehensible nonsense.
That's one of Bud's (Harry Dean Stanton in one of his best roles) eternal
truths. Along with a host of other gems he uses while training Otto (Emilio
Estevez) in the code of the Repo-man.
Another is; Bud: "You ain't no communist are you?"
Otto: "Hell no!"
Bud: "That's good, I don't let no communists ride in my car, no christians
Or, Bud: "You gotta dress real square, like a cop, 'cause if they think your
a cop they'll think your packin' something".
Made in 1984 while the punk scene was dying this punk rock metaphor points out everything wrong with the straight life as well as everything right in a cult film. Otto and his friends spend their time slam dancing to hard-core music and guzzling "beer" or doing crime just for the hell of it. Punks were the ultimate anti-conformists in the late '70's and early 80's. They rebel against the establishment purely because it exists, looking at society and seeing nothing worthwhile. Nothing to relate to has led them to this way of life. That blandness of society is shown through the use of generic brand products everywhere in the film, a joke within the joke. I loved it when Otto opens the fridge at his stoned out (another inside joke about the failed 60's lifestyle) parents pad and starts eating a can of "food". One has but to remember the line in Iggy Pop's classic opening title track, "Looking for the joke with a microscope", then you'll get it.
I saw Repo Man in '84 while living in San Francisco based on the bands who were chosen for the soundtrack, many of whom were playing around town at the time. That soundtrack sounds as good today as it did then, buy it if you can find it. The "B" story, or was that the "A" story? of what was in the trunk of the '64 Malibu was again a play upon the whole government conspiracy theory thing and this way before the X-Files. I along with my fellow audience members danced out of the theater laughing our butt's off we had such a great time. Later with some new found friends setting in a local bar across the street we started speaking some of the lines over again setting off a new round of laughter as we remembered those scenes. Otto; "I ain't gonna be no stinking repo-man". Marlene hands Otto some cash; "To late kid, you already are". Intense, an 8 out of 10.
I'm gratified that a lot of people take this film as quite universal, a
dark comedy classic of "no future" that holds up 20 years down the
road, and probably will continue to hold up for decades as an
intriguing portrait of alienation and the underbelly, scummy society
formed by those who can not abide all that is wholesome, brainwashed
and suburban in the USA (world) in the "Modern Age."
For me, I also fixate, perhaps too much, on this film as the perfect time capsule of a time and place now gone: Los Angeles in the punk rock years. yes, there was a scene, and had its own specific quirks unlike the punk rock scenes in New York, London, or anywhere else. Punk rock on the freeways, in the hellish heart of suburban sprawl. A lot of exaggeration in the portrayal of the scene, but through such hyperbole, the film probably cuts to the heart of what was happening in more ways than one. I have to admit though, they were about 14 years ahead of the curve with the Circle Jerks going lounge. Ask Brian Setzer about that one.
But a lot of what this movie shows is vanishing, or has already vanished. Gentrification is creeping into the post-apocalyptic neighborhoods where the Repo Men plied their trade and new condo or loft buildings are being constructed just near Skid Row. L. Ron Hubbard and Dr. Gene Scott (referenced in the film) are both dead. Ralphs doesn't sell those plain-wrap generic groceries anymore; they're all about artisanal gorgonzola cheeses and fair-trade estate-grown coffee now. They're even building a new Ralphs downtown for the first time since the 1950's. The forlorn bus that Otto rode is giving way to new subway and light rail lines. No new freeways will be ever be constructed in Los Angeles, since the land is just too expensive.
And no more "plate o' shrimp" since shrimp have gone extinct. Just kidding on that one, but it's probably coming. You can still get Orange Bang though.
Anyways, I saw this film the very year it was first released and loved its quirky, itchy charms them. I've seen it several time since then (probably about 10 times). I just saw the new DVD the other day, and it still has the power to amuse, shock and empower. And the commentary track is quite entertaining -- they even got Mike Nesmith to participate in it, bless him. I will be watching this film many more times. You just gotta admire a film that has the guts to insist that John Wayne was gay.
If you have never seen this film, why not? Go now! See it before they repo your car! Highest possible recommendation.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
REPO MAN is a well made Sci-Fi/Comedy/Action film that is surrounded in
a world, of Aliens, drugs, robberies, Repo men, shrimp & no name food
products. The story has a bug eyed, clench fisted EMILIO ESTEVEZ as a
punk named OTTO, who is recruited by HARRY DEAN STANTON's character to
re-posses cars, then one day Otto stumbles upon a strange 1960's
Malibu, driven by a scientist who has dead aliens in the car trunk that
even though dead, are still quiet dangerous & one sought by the FBI & a
variety of other folk, most of whom do not play abide by the law! REPO
MAN was a delight to view, it's very funny & always entertaining, the
actors work well together & Director ALEX COX is great at directing
this, this film had just a few slow spots, but they were easily
overcome by the films, weirder than not charms & funny bits. Highly
recommended & always fun to watch!
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