Repo Man - 1984
So, if you have never seen or read anything about Repo Man the first half of this review won’t spoil it for you. I went in to this movie completely blind and I don’t regret it at all. I will clearly label the beginning and end of what I consider to be spoilers of this cult classic. Alright, with that out of the way, let me sell you on the simple plot:
Former grocery clerk, current punk-rocker Otto reluctantly starts working as a Repo Man. When a $20K repo job drops on his lap, he finds himself between rival repo men and government agencies. Why does everyone want this car so badly? The answer is out of this world.
I even kept the plot summary as spoiler free as I could, so you’re welcome.
Repo Man stars a relatively-unknown-at-the-time Emilio Estevez as Otto, young punk rocker living in dirty LA. I loved his entire persona throughout the entire movie. His general “Fuck-that” attitude to whatever situation he is in was refreshing and, funny enough, added a Zen vibe to his character. It’s awesome that he followed up this performance with a little-known movie called The Breakfast Club, playing the clean-cut jock.
Otto is taken under the wing of veteran repo man Bud, played by the underrated Harry Dean Stanton. He plays his character with total cynicism that a veteran repo man would totally have. Estevez and Stanton have great chemistry and they play off each other wonderfully. As the movie goes along they build on their relationship and by the end you buy their how close they have become.
This movie has a lot of running gags throughout its run time, my favorite being the product labels. Everything is expressly mark without promoting any brand. The beer cans are clearly marked as “BEER”, having the grocery store shelves look hilarious. My favorite scene of this gag comes when he goes home, opens the fridge and takes out a can mark “FOOD”. He starts eating it of the can and his mother simply tells him; “Put it on a plate, son. You’ll enjoy it more.”.
Repo Man was and is a Hollywood oddity. It didn’t come from a big IP, had no big star attached to it, had an unconventional format, and it’s not easily dropped in a movie genre, but it works. Honestly, I would have to mention at least three other movies (Dude Where is my car meets SLC Punk meets They Live) and tell you to combine them all, just to sell you on what this movie resembles among its peers.
Some spoilers ahead.
Slowly jump into this spoiler just in case your eye wondered down here. Scientology: this movie is a commentary on this religion and how it swept the LA scene. Our hero is recommended the book Dioretix: The Science of Matter over Mind and how it can completely change his life. The movie revolves around aliens and the ending is basically what is promised from the religion (with the being taken away from earth is a “spaceship”). Another hint that this movie is poking fun at the religion comes when Otto asks his parent (that are glued to the TV watching a religious show) for money. They simply tell him there is no more money since they pledged everything to their new religion (Scientology’s teachings, as many of you may know, comes at a hefty price).
There is a lot more in this movie that I loved. The all-male-blonde agents that are tasked with acquiring the lost alien artefact (Two of them are also shown reading the book mentioned above). The head of the agency having a random robot hand, that is never explained. Whenever somebody opens the trunk of the car they disintegrate instantly. And off course the neon green glowing car in the end that flies away with Otto and the one we thought was crazy, but weirdly knew everything from the start.
No more spoilers.
Repo Man can be taken at face-value for what it is, a weird dark comedy with some sci-fi elements. But, if you want to dig deeper in to what they were trying to say about society, you will be very pleasantly surprised. This movie goes against pretty much everything what the cookie-cut movie factory Hollywood has become and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. I could watch this movie over and over and I’ll probably come away with something new each time and that’s why I love movies.
Repo man is currently streaming on HBO Go, watch it.
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