By Brad Laidman | December 27, 2000

It’s probably a little hard to take Emilio Estevez seriously as a disaffected punk turned car re-possessor after three “Mighty Ducks” movies and that crazy celluloid dream with brother Charlie where they played garbage men, but that’s hardly wasteland auteur Alex Cox’s fault. “Repo Man” is not particularly light viewing; it’s not a great date movie, and nothing particularly magic happens in it, but people have been known to watch it over and over obsessively, as if one of its odd nihilistic philosophers is the true messenger of life’s many secrets. Everyone in this movie is either homeless, wasted, crazy, violent, or some obsessive combination of the above. It’s a sell-out to give it three stars because the only real response to it is the perception of brilliance or the belief that it’s an utter piece of garbage.
Estevez is a Los Angeles punk whose parents smoked too much dope and gave his education money away to a televangelist who convinced them that God needed it to supply Bibles to the people of El Salvador. Fired from his supermarket job for his bad attitude, he is recruited into the auto recovery business by Harry Dean Stanton, never the greatest person to latch onto no matter how decrepit your society or situation happens to be. As a repo man, Estevez’ burned out nihilistic belief system and general crankiness prove to be an asset. Every repo man has their own particularly odd view on the world, takes speed, and seems to be named after a different brand of beer, which is odd because every time one of Otto’s punk friends robs a convenience store, all they seem to be selling is generic products. The average city dweller seems to be crazier and in worse shape than even Detroit’s futuristic population in “Robocop”.
Meanwhile, there is a 1964 brown Chevy Malibu being driven around by radiation-crazed guilty scientist J. Frank Parnell, whose trunk may or may not contain four alien bodies that, when seen, vaporize the viewer faster than the Ark of the Covenant did in those Nazis. Soon, a twenty-thousand dollar bounty is put on the Malibu, and the repo men, Los Rodriguez brothers, and any number of whacked out potential X-file agents, including one with a metal hand, are on the case.
“Repo Man” merits either multiple viewings or the subsequent rental of an early Jim Carrey movie to equalize your system and help you regain the ability to sleep at night. Bonus points for the never-boring, cutting edge punk soundtrack. If anyone can figure out the cosmic significance of the film’s omnipresent pine tree car fresheners, you’re a better man than me.

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  1. w says:

    just another example of why ‘movie critic’ is usually just a quick way of describing someone who has somehow convinced someone else that their vapid, worthless, and poorly written opinion is worthy of publication

  2. paul says:

    the pine tree air fresheners are just another jab at the empty promise of american consumerism. our lifestyles stink and we buy stupid things to keep from smelling the stench. it also serves to put us all on an even keel no matter what our background may be. having said that, i am willing to bet that no real punk rocker anywhere ever bought one of those stupid trees.

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