Anchor Bay Entertainment | Release Date: March 2, 1984
Universal acclaim based on 34 Ratings
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SpangleAug 25, 2017
Born out of the counter-culture revolution, Alex Cox's Repo Man is a cynical, madcap, and absolutely absurd critique of the world of 1984 made by a man who had very little he liked and a very nihilistic view of the world around him. Set inBorn out of the counter-culture revolution, Alex Cox's Repo Man is a cynical, madcap, and absolutely absurd critique of the world of 1984 made by a man who had very little he liked and a very nihilistic view of the world around him. Set in small town California with young rebel Otto (Emilio Estevez) unwittingly having to remove his oversized earrings to become a repo man alongside Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), Repo Man is the kind of cultural critique that hits every possible area of American life to the point that it becomes a bit much. Fortunately, Repo Man's frantic pace, wacky plot, and delightfully odd characters, make it a film that as hard to resist as being offered by speed by a middle aged repo man as you cruise around town talking being repo men. Honestly, no film may better sum up 1980s cinema than Repo Man. Goofy effects, douchey young adults, Harry Dean Stanton, inventive ideas, and an anti-consumerist undercurrent running throughout the film.

Using the repo man profession as an entry into this wacky science fiction comedy, Repo Man is interesting in how little it actually focuses on science fiction. Aside from a few mentions of aliens or the possibility of getting a Chevy Malibu as a repo (which is the car carrying those aliens), much of this film is just Otto, Bud, and Lite (Sy Richardson) picking up cars. As a result, Cox is able to mock and criticize the consumerist culture we have in America. With people constantly pissed off at the fact their car is being taken even though it is their fault, Repo Man sets the tone by showing just how dumb people can really be. The poor buy cars they cannot afford or need. The rich buy cars and feel superior to having to pay them. To Cox, both of these sides are idiotic and those who get upset about losing their car in a repo deserve to get their ass whooped by a gang of repo men with bats. Yet, the reason is not because of capitalist ideology or anything of the like. Instead, it is based upon one's word. As Bud states, credit is the only thing in this world that really matters. It separates us from the communists, yes, and Cox clearly does not like communism as he openly mocks it and the idea of things being "free", but the obligation to pay in the mind of Repo Man is not out of making the economy work. Rather, it is because somebody gave you money to buy something, thus you must pay them back. Credit shows how trustworthy a person is to return that money and, to the film, that defines a person's character. Somebody with bad credit is a bad person and vice versa. By not having credit as a way to determine somebody's trustworthiness, it makes communism inherently bad.

That said, in true nihilistic fashion, Cox hardly appreciates capitalism either. Critiquing the hustling televangelist who has Otto's parents in a trance and demands thousands of dollars in the name of God or by simply having Otto lament about television shows where people just consume, consume, and consume, Repo Man is a film that rails against consumerism and, by extension, capitalism. Showing the stress on society of a culture defined by what you have, the film shows the lengths people have resorted to as a result. With people not paying their cars, engaging in carjacking, or shooting people over repossessing their car, this car becomes an extension of who they are and how they define themselves, making it a personal affront to take it or to put obstacles in the way of them owning the car. This blase attitude to purchasing, in spite of consumerism, is really exemplified in the group of kids who go around engaging in robberies. Robbing the same store repeatedly, stealing the Chevy Malibu, and constantly questioning authority, the group is morally opposed to buying things, lest they appear poor. By stealing, they still get to identify themselves as members of this capitalist society and, by extension, as adults.

To a comedic degree, Repo Man consistently demonstrates just how immature these characters are by simply showing their interactions with one another. With criminals Duke (Dick Rude) and Debbi (Jennifer Balgobin) robbing stores, the two seem to really gel only when committing crimes. In one line, Duke demonstrates his maturity level by looking at Debbi and saying, "Let's go get sushi and not pay." Juvenile and a child's definition of living life on the edge and not paying, these robberies clearly make him and Debbi feel like adults. It gives them some control and a semblance of an adult life in spite of their childish surroundings and behavior. Underscoring these actions as ones from a wannabe adult, Cox shows Duke asking Debbi to "have my baby" with the reasoning that it is what people seem to do from what he has noticed. These are lost kids, trying to find meaning in a world without any. By the time they are adults, the television-obsessed and consumerist adults have demonstrated two things has being marks of adulthood: having things and having kids. Who can blame these kids
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bobbsywSep 5, 2010
Intense. But then the life of a repo man is always intense. Some fine acting, a ludicrous plot and some of the finest one-liners around. Fantastic and insane in equal measures.
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madeleineJan 11, 2013
Almost perfect. Characters which are fully realised but incomprehensible, like real people. Shops which are presciently full of 'chips', 'beer' and so on. Aliens, punks and big 'ole cars. And most of all, Harry Dean Stanton. Watch it!
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FallenFIre360Dec 1, 2011
Holy Crap, this is one of the weirdest movies I have ever seen. But I love alien invasions, I love Esteves, and, I being a punk rocker in new orleans, love punk rock music.
2 of 2 users found this helpful20
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