Repo Man

Repo Man

Repo Man (1984)


Wannabe punk Otto finds his higher calling as a repo man and then gets dragged into the quest to repo a car that contains the bodies of four dead aliens before the government can find it and cover it up.

Equal parts black comedy, fantasy, fever dream and punk rock video, this is a movie that you’re going to either love or hate.  If you love it, be sure to hydrate because you’re going to wake up with a nasty hangover.  Like Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, this is one of those movies that is awesome and makes total sense if you are stoned out of your mind.  Otherwise, you WILL become disoriented and dizzy.

Emilio Estevez is Otto, a down-on-his-luck punk kid who just lost (or threw away) his job at the grocery store.  Dejected about losing his (sort of) girl as well, he crosses paths with Harry Dean Stanton, who hires him to help repo a car – without actually telling him that he’s repoing a car.  Thus Otto becomes a repo man.  Stanton is great, waxing philosophical throughout the film about the life of a repo man and their duty to help preserve our capitalistic society.

Otto gradually immerses himself in the repo world, eventually meeting a girl who’s looking for space aliens.  In the trunk of a ’64 Malibu.  That the government and all of the rival repo men are looking for.  Hilarity, shootouts, torture and a bad acid trip or two ensue.

This film is drenched in 80s movie irony.  Product placement?  Everything here is generic – they don’t even buy “beer” cans at the store, they buy “drink”.  Otto’s mom and dad are lifeless automatons who can’t even look up from the televangelist on tv.  Most performances are explicitly deadpan, making everything in the background seem that much more dull and dreary and Otto’s life, by comparison, that much more exciting.

None of this film makes a lot of sense, but somehow it all works and arrives at a satisfying conclusion.  Again, it’s not going to work for everyone – or even most people – but if you just want to sit back, chill out, crack a beer and veg out in front of the screen, this long strange trip is one you’ll remember.

Stars: 3.5/5


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