Repo Man Midnight Movie Review
by Bret Dorman
A lot of us probably have boring and uninteresting jobs. Don’t get me wrong, I know in today’s economy and job market we’re lucky if we even have one. That doesn’t change the fact that ours our boring.
Being a young kid, the idea of having a job was romanticized. Having a job was like school, but getting paid for it. Imagine: Not having to ask your parents for money and getting to buy as much candy as you want! (Side Note: Probably about 1/4 of my paycheck is spent on food and half that is probably candy.)
Being an older kid (but still a kid), it seemed like having a job was going to be fun. Sure my parents had boring and average jobs, but I’m special! I can do anything I want! Besides, that’s what college is for right? Training in the job you want.
And then reality sets in. Bills must be paid. Rent is due. You can’t sit around and wait for the perfect job to come knocking, you have to go knocking for anything that is willing to give you money. And if you’re lucky its legal. Movies don’t just provide escapism from this stone cold fact, they also provide a fantasy world where main characters get fun jobs that are exciting enough to have an entire movie based on them. Enter: Repo Man.The Story: Otto (Emilio Estevez) is a punk rock teenager with no discernible future… or job. That is until he is more or less given a job as a Repo Man (That’s the name of the movie!) and tutored by Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) and Lite (Sy Richardson). Things get interesting as more parties get involved over the reward on a ’64 Chevy Malibu. Also, aliens are involved.
As far as romanticizing and fantasizing the adult world of “jobs” go, Repo Man wastes no time. Otto immediately fires himself from Job #1 (stock boy) and gets sort of tricked into Job #2 (Repo Man) almost right away. Being a Repo Man wasn’t on his radar, but its a match made in heaven. He doesn’t have to follow societies rules per se, as his job is to legally steal cars from people. That doesn’t mean there aren’t rules, he still has to follow “The Code” of being a Repo Man.
After Otto gets his job and we follow him on his ‘training’, what we get is a half-baked well-intentioned section of the movie devoted entirely to (the romanticization) of the life of a Repo Man. We see how a Repo Man goes about his job, what exactly it is, and “The Code”/intellectual musings from the people who teach Otto how to make an ‘honest’ living.
The first half of this movie also sets up Otto’s ‘romantic’ relationship with Leila (Olivia Barash), his past friendship with a band of punk robbers, a mysterious group of FBI type guys, a rival repo gang, a nerdy friend of Otto’s, and some weirdo driving a ’64 Chevy Malibu. With most the attention being paid to Otto and the repossession trade, the rest is set up in rather clunky fashion.
And yet, once the ’64 Malibu is stolen from the weird guy by a group of drug mules, the story gets more and more interesting. The very opening scene of the movie leaves us with no doubt that there actually is an alien in the trunk of the car. So once people start stealing this car that others are willing to kill to get, the story moves from job-world fantasy to out right absurdity a.k.a. escapism.
As the story nears the end, more and more of the seemingly distance story threads start to intertwine, usually with violent results. The best part of the movie comes in the form of a really well constructed Mexican Standoff that is played out with a steady shocking violent rhythm. Its not like the chaotic shootouts of bad action movies. Once the first shot is fired, there is a slight pause for reaction, before the retaliating shot gets another set of reactions and the rhythm keeps that pace until only a couple are left.
By the end of the movie, you’re either with it or you’re not. Hopefully you are, because its just too much fun to take seriously. As Otto left he real world of boring jobs and was weirdly welcomed into the fantasy of being a Repo Man; so does he leave that fantasy and weirdly enter the world of Ultimate Escapism. And so too can you leave your normal world for an hour and a half and enter this weird movie’s reality.
Why You Must See It At Midnight: Normal Daytime Hours are for Normal Movies. This movie is far from that. The beauty of Repo Man is not only is it trying to be a fun story and weirdly heady/trippy, its also silly and at times the dialogue is laughably bad (“committing crimes”), which only adds to its Midnight Charm.