Repo Man
Bob Cantor Presents
everything you ever wanted to know about Repo Man.
"If it isn't here, it doesn't exist."

"Ever been to Utah?" - J. Frank Parnell

When someone asks Why do you like Repo Man so much?, just tell them to watch the movie. Either they get it or they don't, and if they don't, there's no sense wasting time on them. But when I ask this question of myself, this is not a satisfactory answer. So here are links to all the Repo Man movie reviews which I could find to help us figure it out. Here also is my own review in its entirety (a shortened version appears on IMDB).

What makes Repo Man such an awesome film? Here are links to many reviews which might help explain it.

"Cox's film cruises through the south Los Angeles streets strung-out on equal doses of satire, science fiction, conspiracy theories, and social commentary. ... Otto is pure Southern California suburban vapidity. Otto is so passive that even being a rebel without a cause would tax his inertia. ... He doesn't hold any convictions, yet he doesn't just want to lie down in the middle of the road awaiting the next oncoming car, either. Otto wants to be driving the car."
Derek Hill - contains extensive plot description

"[Repo Men] are cowboys, rugged individualists with a code of honor. They work hard and they play harder. The desolate landscape they ride in is not the open plains and mountains of a sparsely inhabited American West, but a modern society which has been completely dumbed down by the irresistible lure of the lowest common demoninator."
Bob's own review

"Begin an insane film then, of a rare freedom in spite of a linear and very traditional narration. You will be entitled to an urban and contemporary philosophical fable, a motorized western, a science fiction film straight inherited Kiss me Deadly of Robert Aldrich, an teen-age bitter lovesong, a prehistory with X-Files and a singular film of action in which a gang of punks mad 'will eat sushis and will not pay!!!'"
La Plume Noir (translation from French by Google)

"Repo Man is a grimy, filthy, anxiety-ridden piece of work from the epicenter of the Reagan Era, and if that's not enough, it takes place in L.A. It's messy, confusing, and self-indulgent. It's also very funny and Alex Cox creates such a strong and distinct atmosphere that it's virtually impossible for you to mistake it for another film."

"...he communicates using mood, symbolism, and incident. ... He also makes the most of the gluttony and the phoniness of the '80s, making sometimes sly and sometimes overt jokes about such era institutions as money-grubbing televangelists, shameless junk food, the fear of working-class blacks by whites, space aliens, government conspiracies, nihilism growing out of boredom, most of which are still alive and well today."
Jaime N. Christley (November 16, 1999), Film Written Magazine

"Often, what draws an audience to a film is a great plot. In the case of RM, after years of repeated viewings, I'm still not entirely sure what the plot is."
Wil Forbis

"The film seemed to grow like a fungus, and it's been the stuff of legend ever since it came out. ... It's equal shots noir, socio-political satire, sci fi, comedy, drama, crime film, road movie, and conspiracy flick all rolled in to one package. On top of all this, it's fun as hell to watch."

"It's more about the fabric of American culture seen through a parody of teenage and sci fi films of the '50s set in the '80s. In the end it seeks to destroy any preconceived notions we have about what the story means."
DVD Verdict

"Repo Man" is one of those movies that slips through the cracks and gives us all a little weirdo fun. [It] comes out of left field, has no big stars, didn't cost much, takes chances, dares to be unconventional, is funny, and works. There is a lesson here.
Roger Ebert

"A striking examination of consumer culture on a small scale, Repo Man slowly mutates from an odd car chase movie into a sci-fi spoof, fused together with an uncompromising satirical script and a killer West Coast punk soundtrack."
Repo Man booklet from limited edition DVD

"Whatever its genre, Repo Man does not disappoint. The characters are wonderfully drawn and the narrative unfolds at a brisk clip, but not at the expense of shortchanging the plot."
Ed Peters

"Repo Man is set in an insane world where the only cures are the anesthetizing lobotomy of beer and TV, or Otto's rejection of all values in a search for new meaning in life. The primary binary opposition in this movie is this conflict between the numbness of most of the characters and the defamiliarization of Otto in his search for values. The pervasive numbness is caused by the anesthetizing effect of modern American culture, particularly TV and beer."
Mark McGothigan - Repo Man - A structural, semiotic analysis

"Repo Man is filled with themes of anti-consumerism and the American Dream. ... Are we becoming commodities? ... This seems to be saying that the pursuit of the American Dream is a quest that will only lead to eventual destruction."

"What is the quintessential cyberpunk movie? ... What film created de novo could rightfully claim to herald the turbulent sociocultural and artistic currents that were to soon revolutionize written SF? Alex Cox's Repo Man captures perfectly the "low life, high tech" ethos of the genre."
Classic Sci-Fi

"Its humor is so buried and subtle that it will whiz right by you the first time. ...besides just the funny lines, there are lines about the meaning of life, something we're all desperately searching for in our teen years. Miller (Tracey Walter) is the main lightning rod of universal intelligence."
Jeffrey M. Anderson

"Although (Alex Cox) is obviously interested in the surface lunacy of Repo Man, he also infuses the narrative with a deep vein of social satire that gives every frame an extra kick."
James Kendrick - see this and other reviews at Rotten Tomatoes

"It's about punk reaching its maturity, and being forced into the mainstream; it's about the mainstream subsuming all that it touches."
Guest Correspondant Q, Mutant Reviewers from Hell

"With it's raging punk soundtrack and cast of quirky characters, "Repo Man" is a surprise from its first frame to its last. Even when you begin to expect the unexpected, Cox stays one step ahead of you."
John Larsen - more good information about the DVD

"...there is more wit in (the) background noise than in some whole movies."
source unknown

"A series of coincidences...reveal something about the underbelly of urban life and provide science-fictional metaphors for urban dreams. ... Repo Man became an instant cult movie, not just because of its punk aesthetics and black humor, but also because of its old-fashioned virtues: it is well made and coherently scripted."
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

" modern society, personal ethics are being replaced by the notion of personal gain... Ultimately, the repo men come to represent a better way than consumer culture. They take away everyones favorite symbol of upward mobility - the car..."
Repo Man booklet from limited edition DVD

"Practically the whole script is quotable - and the anarchic spirit neatly mirrors the punk ethic of the protagonists."
80's Movies Gateway

"One of the great cult hits of the late 20th century."
David Loftus

"The punk/sci-fi film to beat, though 'Liquid Sky' comes close. If you like your movies smart-ass, fast-paced, and absolutely unsentimental, this is what you want."
Rob Gonsalves

"This movie proves it's true artistic content by succeding in the vomit rule of Mike's Movie Rules"
Liquid Theater

"Repo Man isn't about cars - it's about freedom versus the brainwashing of consumerism and religion... which is just another kind of consumerism in the world of writer/director Alex Cox."
MaryAnn Johanson

"fairly mind blowing and unexpected"
Movie Posters

"Cox's style is a step beyond camp into a comedy of pure disgust; much of the film is churlishly unpleasant, but there's a core of genuine anger that gives the project an emotional validation lacking in the flabby American comedies of the early 80s. ...Stanton, strange and wonderful, bridges it all with his uncrackable conviction."
David Kehr, The Chicago Reader

"Estevez handles the role of dazed and confused Otto to perfection. He isn't searching for meaning in life as much as he is just for a way to get by."
Home Theater

"Repo Man is just rude and intensely funny"
Unclaimed Mystery Labs

"Like all classic Punk cult films... it creates a dim reflection of the world we live in"

"Emilio Estevez stars in one of his earliest roles as Otto Parts (sic), your modern apocalyptic teen up to his armpits in drugs, sex, and parental neglect."
The Austin Chronicle

"This is a very odd movie. Enjoyable, but very, very odd."

"With its rambling pace and thoroughly absurd premise, Repo Man is a prototypically divisive cult film that will either leave viewers marveling at its inventiveness or scratching their heads in frustration."
Reel Film Reviews, who ultimately didn't like it!

"The bastard child of Dr. Strangelove and Easy Rider, this apocalyptic treat revolves around the disaffected Otto, who joins a team of repo men tracking down a Chevy Malibu with mysteriously glowing cargo in its trunk. With rapier dialog, surprisingly beautiful cinematography, and a perfect-pitch soundtrack, Repo Man rewards repeated viewing."
Peter Merholz

"A skillful blend of science fiction and social satire, Repo Man is pure weirdo fun."

"I can perfectly understand why a lot of people just wouldn't get it. But for those of us on REPO MAN's own peculiar wavelength it IS a classic, and the fact that it is so strange and mad and silly and profound and hilarious all at the same time puts it into a category of brilliant cinema all of its own."
barfly99, for this and other viewer comments see IMDB

"It's bursting with wryly humorous action, and hairy-eyed monologues from a splendid array of winningly off-the-wall characters - especially the innocent Miller who, ultimately, is the only one with any understanding of how an apparent "lattice of coincidence" holds together the abundant plot elements of subgenre comedy, buddy movie, detective thriller, sci-fi clichés, youth gang violence, crime drama, samurai code metaphors, and low-key apocalypse."

Arriving in the middle of the Reagan 1980s, Repo Man remains one of the few examples of revolt within the system, and it's no surprise to learn that Cox is fond of John Carpenter's 1988 cult classic They Live, which also weds genre mayhem to cutting political satire. Both films take place in impoverished hinterlands untouched by boom economies, and either unacknowledged or suppressed by the powers that be.
Scott Tobias, The Dissolve

"Repo Man" is simply too loopy, too fresh, too unencumbered with dogma to qualify as a downward-spiral excursion into ennui.
Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times

"Alex Cox's postmodern, parodic, and deadpan Repo Man (1984) more clearly manifests the phenomenologically experienced homogeneity of postmodern discontinuity. The film is constructed as both a picaresque, episodic, loose, and irresolute tale ... and a tightly bound system of coincidences. Individual scenes are connected not through narrative causality but through the connection of literally material signifiers. ... Emplotment in Repo Man becomes diffused across a vast relational network. It is no accident that the car culture of Los Angeles figures in Repo Man to separate and segment experience into discrete and chaotic bits (as if it were metaphysically lived only through the window of an automobile)--while the "lattice of coincidence," the "network" of the Los Angeles freeway system, reconnects experience at another and less human order of magnitude."
Vivian Sobchack, University of Rochester

"People get so hung up on specifics, they miss out on seeing the whole thing." - Miller

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Copyright by Robert Cantor