Repo Man (1984)

rearviewPunk Rock, Extra-terrestrials, a radioactive Chevy Malibu and Harry Dean Stanton. If that’s not enough to send you running towards Repo Man, you’re a lost cause. Repo Man is, simply put, one of the best movies out there. When folks ask me for recommendations, it’s always on the list. The film itself is chaotic, disjointed, dangling by a thread – and that is what makes it so exciting; you really never know where it’s going. It could fall into the ocean at any moment. And so what if it did?

Otto (Emilio Estevez) is tired of his shitty supermarket job, tired of his girlfriend, tired of being broke. His generic world of “beer” and “food” has educationbored him to tears, but excitement finds him at just the right moment. Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) swindles Otto into his first car repossession by telling him he needs help getting his wife’s car out of a “bad area.” While Otto’s “principles” at first keep him from accepting a permanent position with the “Helping Hand Acceptance Corporation” it isn’t long before the bleak world of Los Angeles presents itself to Otto. With nothing else to do, Otto gives in and starts training under Bud to become a Repo Man.

Otto quickly learns “the life of a repo man’s always intense.” Each one has their own set of principles, and they play by their own rules. Otto, a true punk, has no time for rules and attempts to carve out his own little repo niche. The surrounding cast of characters all help shape IntenseOtto’s new world: the garbage man philosopher Miller, the knitting rent-a-cop, the Dioretix-touting repo man Lite, and the rival repo men The Rodriguez Brothers.

Along the way, Otto falls in with a strange girl named Leila, who claims the Feds are after her because she knows a little too much about a Chevy Malibu with some very dangerous cargo. When Otto finds out the Malibu’s on the repo wire with a ransom of $20,000 he and every other repo man are on the hunt for the strange, elusive vehicle and its mad scientist driver.

WildnwackstreetsRepo Man is one of the most unique movies I’ve ever seen. It’s thoughtful, funny, unpredictable and smart. It’s set in some sort of apocalyptic Los Angeles, a world we recognize but is also alien. A world where you’re always witnessing the tail-end of a robbery; where there’s the constant threat of nuclear fallout. Kids are desperately looking for money, and their best bets are shitty jobs, liquor-store cash registers or dead-beat car owners. What’s brought Los Angeles to these dire straits? The commies? The bomb? Seedy televangelists? The greatest achievement of Repo Man is its ability to maintain a constant, strong thread of humor while portraying the destitute, desperate nature of a society in shambles.


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