"If it isn't here, it doesn't exist."
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."
"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!!!'"
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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.
"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
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"It's about punk reaching its maturity, and being forced into the mainstream; it's about the mainstream subsuming all that it touches."
"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."
"...there is more wit in (the) background noise than in some whole movies."
"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."
"...in 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..."
"Practically the whole script is quotable - and the anarchic spirit neatly
mirrors the punk ethic of the protagonists."
"One of the great cult hits of the late 20th century."
"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."
"This movie proves it's true artistic content by succeding in the vomit
rule of Mike's Movie Rules"
"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."
"fairly mind blowing and unexpected"
"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."
"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."
"Repo Man is just rude and intensely funny"
"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
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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.
"Repo Man" is simply too loopy, too fresh, too unencumbered with dogma to qualify as a downward-spiral excursion into ennui.
"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."