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Repo Man/Review 2

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Repo Man

(***This review contains spoilers***)

Usually, I'm not into the "coming-of-age" teen movie genre because I don't think they are representative of my life at that time at all. Although there are few movies that I do like, for instance: "Quadrophenia", "Pretty in Pink", "Saturday Night Fever", "Napoleon Dynamite" and my most favorite: "Repo Man". Repo Man is one of those films that literally changed my opinion about life. So, even though our friend Popeye Pete reviewed this flick before, I'd like to give you my opinion of it.

The plot follows Otto, a young teenager who has a really terrible life. He gets fired from the supermarket where he works, his girlfriend cheats on him, his friend starts to act like a jackass and his mom and dad become victims of a evangelical Christian telethon. Then, an old guy named Bud (played by Harry Dean Stanton) lures him into the world of the repo man, an occupation that nobody wants in the first place. Next, Otto meets a young girl who claims that there's a 1964 Chevy Malibu containing the remains of aliens. Otto doesn't believe this until he finds out that the car has a reward of $20,000. So, Otto, a rival repo outfit and the FBI chase after the car. Unfortunately, they don't know the truth about the aliens.

Although Alex Cox (the director) claims that this film is about the danger of nuclear war, to me, it's about a young teenager who tries to fit into a "dystopian" world. Most of the characters have a moral ambiguity and totally different personalities. Bud, the older repo man who invites Otto to do this job, is the one who always follows the repo code and has his own rules like 1) don't steal other people's cars 2) no commies or christians allowed in his car, etc. He represents all the normal people who follow the rules set up by society. Unfortunately, he can't control his emotions and this leads him to ruining his job and friendship with Otto. Next, we have Lite, a black guy who breaks the repo code by randomly stealing people's cars instead of repossessing the ones he's supposed to. He represents the "rebellion". I have to put the quotation marks there because he sometimes causes disaster because of his wreckless decisions. There's one scene that shows him shoot the car owner that shoots Otto (Otto tries to steal his/her car back). Otto then says: "Maybe you shot that guy [...] that's pretty severe", but Lite just fires the gun near Otto instead of answering him. This scene shows us how arrogant Lite is. Another character that I'd like to mention is "Miller". He's the one who can't drive at all although he works with the repo gang (he claims that "the more you drive, the less intelligent you become"). He usually comes up with theories that are too weird to be true, but in the end he's one of two guys who could actually drive the alien Chevy.

As you can see, Otto can't fit in with most of characters at all. He has to see through lots of "moral decay". There's even one character, Duke, a thief, who says that: "Society made me what I am". Another great example is Otto's mom and dad who get brainwashed by the Christian telethon that begs viewers to send in a lot of money. It shows us even religion has become "corporate" and we can't trust it at all. Also, most characters in this film decide to chase after the Chevy, although they have no idea about the danger of the dead aliens in the trunk. Everybody does everything for money...and this leads to disaster since they have no idea how to manage it. What about the end? I think it shows us how Otto has to get out of the "hell" of our society and people that he can't fit in with. He decides to take a risk by getting into the mysterious alien Chevy because he has nothing left to fear...he's had all of the "worst" experiences at this point.

Another thing that I love about this film is how anti-product placement it is. Most of products have no actual brand, they are just generic. For example, you could find a brand of beer called "Beer". I love it not only because of a similar design that appears on the music group Public Image Ltd's front cover of their record "Album", but also it's a middle-finger to the product placement the movie industries do. Usually, these placements are kinda obvious and too stupid to be put in a film...so it tries to satirize it by featuring the most generic brand as much as possible.

There are lots of things that you can find in this film besides what I've described like the early 80s LA Punk subculture, secret government organizations, corrupt police officers, etc. That's why Repo Man gives us as viewers a unique experience each time you watch it. I'm sure that you could fit into one of characters in the film...and you're going to love them for sure.

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Nuttawut Permpithak is a Thai student who's spending his final year in university studying marketing. In his free time he watches exploitation films...or any films from the past, writing articles, taking photos and reviewing films for the GCDb.
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