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Repo Man

Repo man oh man, do I love this film. It's exactly the sort of film I'd make if I had a little more-say any-money.

My fondest memory of this film stems from many years back at a party. A friend's then-girlfriend was surfing channels and landed upon it, and I recognized it instantly. "Oh cool," I said, "Repo Man." She replied that she had never seen it. "You've! Never! Seen! Repo Man?!!!" I answered in hyperbolic disbelief. "Everyone but everyone," I explained, "has seen Repo Man." Over the course of the next half-hour, various other friends filed through the room, all exclaiming, after seeing approximately five consecutive frames of the film, "Hey, it's Repo Man!" until she wanted to punch the next person who mentioned it. My point, I felt, was soundly made.

This would probably have to be the ultimate punk flick, a film with energy, profane humor, a hero you aren't even remotely expected to like as a human being, and absolutely no moral message to convey whatsoever. All too many comedies fall into the trap of having to say something sensitive and heartwarming at the close. Repo Man says "fuck off" to that, pretty much literally.

The plot, involving a Chevy Malibu with something extremely hot and glowy in the trunk, is almost secondary to the dialogue, which tends to revolve around shrimp, John Wayne, lobotomies, and paying your bills. Oh, and cussing. (It's also worth pointing out that the edited-for-TV version, in addition to being quite a bit longer, is almost as hilarious for its extensive and ludicrous redubbing of the naughty words, resulted in seemingly endless occurrences of lines to the tune of "Flip you, you gosh-darned melon farmer!") In an ultra-generic landscape of early Reagan America (where cans are labeled "beer" and "food") white suburban punk Otto (Emilio Estevez) is recruited to be a repo man by Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) after losing his job at a local food mart. Why does he want a career in repossesing cars? He doesn't, really, but what the hell else is he going to do with his life? In the age of the televangelist, burgeoning New Age weirdness, and disaffected youth running wild in the streets looking to score dope, not much, frankly. Most films would use such a setup to tell some sort of coming-of-age story; Repo Man instead uses it to tell a story featuring a hot (in more ways than one) Chevy Malibu, a group of UFO cultists, wild speculations about time travel, a rain of ice cubes, and a gleeful lack of anything approaching sentiment. We're also treated to one of the best movie soundtracks ever, with songs by early '80s punk bands like Black Flag, The Circle Jerks, Fear, Suicidal Tendencies, and Iggy Pop. If you don't like punk rock, well, flip you, melon farmer!

Randomly skewering whatever it feels like, Repo Man is one of those truly original comedies we get so few of, with countless bite-sized nuggets of nonsensical dialogue to spout out randomly in casual conversation, a handy resource to use with those friends of yours who are sick of hearing you quote extensively from Monty Python sketches, which, I suspect, is probably damn near all of them. Buy it today, or better yet, steal it and then blame society. If you're the other person on earth who hasn't seen Repo Man, then get thee hence and see it; you don't want to be out-cooled by all your friends, especially considering how cool they probably aren't.

-review by Matt Murray

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