MovieChat Forums > Repo Man (1984) Discussion > Respectfully, this was horrible

Respectfully, this was horrible


Happened to just see it and I think this was one of the weirdest films ever made and not in a good way.
The story didn't offer any explanations what was happening, the dialogue was awful, the directing awful, the soundtrack awful and the ending just too stupid to belive.
How is this a 98% in Rotten Tomatoes?
And I'm not trolling nor pick a fight with it's fans, but if someone could just explain what the hell was this movie about?

Y'see, madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little...push[laughs] ~ The Joker

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It was a documentary explaining how the Mayans invented television.



"I don't want any Commies in my car. No Christians, either."

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The 'story' wasn't meant to be taken seriously, that you are trying to take it that way is the false premise making it impossible to appreciate - social and political satire/comment, camp, black humor, surreal, a great embodiment of 'punk' . . . I'm not a good enough to quite explain it but if you look at it from along those lines you might see it differently. Repo Man was not to everyone's taste and I can't fault those who didn't 'get' it. It might have been somewhat impenetrable unless you lived a a certain time and had a sympathetic predisposition.

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I don't know, that was pretty good =)

You see, madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little...push[laughs] ~ The Joker

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Another clue I think is that this film came out during the heyday of Regan era when everybody was blindly pursuing the dollar, thieving televangelists ruled the airwaves and held sway over mindless true belivers, and the cold war was still a huge shadow over everyone's life - whatever your politics, this was a time when many were angry and disillusioned and somehow Repo Man was the right medicine to expose those seemingly empty values.

The ending was odd, but you know the idea that only alien intervention could save us from the mess we were in was quite popular then, and still is, I still can't decide if the Malibu lifting off for worlds unknown was a joke on those who actually longed for that or whether Cox was in effect agreeing that this was the only way out, "**** that, this is intense."

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"...Reagan era when everybody was blindly pursuing the dollar..."

(...because that's totally different from all those other eras where gold was just laying on the ground waiting to be picked up.)

<eyeroll> Bollocks. "Repo Man" went out of its way to be apolitical, and that's obvious from the *lack* of it in the script. Sure, there some nuttiness about John Wayne allegedly being a fag, but it's from a character who may have "done a lot of acid in the 60s". Even the supposed anti-religion angle is clearly played for comedy rather than as a "message", because it's later revealed that the Reverend and the Feds have been simultaneously chasing the Malibu McGuffin.

Jamming in mountains of leftwing bitching about Ronnie Raygun would have been the easiest thing in the world to do in '84, and the Hollywood red diaper crowd would have ate it up with a spoon. Instead, we got delightful gem scenes like the convenience store shoot-out, where the dying Duke blames society, and Otto says "That's bullsh!t You're a white suburban punk -- just like me!"

The film's protagonist Otto, dropped into the real world of 2015, would probably be a contributor to Chateau Heartiste regaling tales of hot SJWs smoking his pole.

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You've clearly never read any of Alex Cox's interviews. He is not apolitical by any stretch, and he's talked about Repo Man's political analogies several times, including in the DVD commentary. And, the person you're responding to had it right. The film was definitely an indictment of Reagan conservatism. You can mock conservatism while mocking a spoiled white criminal blaming society for his behavior, too. In fact, the most brilliant artists mock both sides, they just mock conservatives more. :)

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You're right; I haven't read his interviews. I just watched the movie.

Duke's death-scene (him blaming society for what he was, with Otto responding that's BS), for instance, straight-up punches a core premise of squishy-feely liberalism right smack in its flabby solar-plexus. If you can ignore the absurdly-protracted choking-on-phlegm that follows the dialogue, it's the scene most resembling actual profound drama in the movie. Elsewhere, we have flagrant and repeated disregard for gun-control legislation.

If *Cox* doesn't realize that, then he's an idiot. If he DID -- and knew it when he made the film, and yet gave the interview that he did anyway -- then he's a sharp character adjusting his sales-pitch to the target audience at the moment (e.g., a leftwing magazine's readership, etc.)

For actual blatantly obvious "definite indictments of Reagan conservatism" smuggled into fantasy entertainment, see Frank Miller's Batman (I'm sure there are dozens if not scores of other examples). Cox, if he meant what you maintain he's said, would have had Otto's parents watching Reagan drone on TV instead of a generic huckster preacher, and Marxist critics would have been all over like hyenas on a wildebeest carcass.

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However, Cox had the sense to not beat the viewers up with his political views in this one. He saved that for his later film "Walker". And surprise, surprise, that film was a disaster. But so were all the chumps who politically fellated the Sandinista goons.

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<eyeroll> Bollocks. "Repo Man" went out of its way to be apolitical, and that's obvious from the *lack* of it in the script. Sure, there some nuttiness about John Wayne allegedly being a fag, but it's from a character who may have "done a lot of acid in the 60s". Even the supposed anti-religion angle is clearly played for comedy rather than as a "message", because it's later revealed that the Reverend and the Feds have been simultaneously chasing the Malibu McGuffin.


Actually, there was quite a bit of it in the script, at least in terms of political content:

Bud: Credit is a sacred trust, it's what our free society is founded on. Do you think they give a damn about their bills in Russia? I said, do you think they give a damn about their bills in Russia?
Otto: They don't pay bills in Russia, it's all free.
Bud: All free? Free my ass. What are you, a *beep* commie? Huh?
Otto: No, I ain't no commie.
Bud: Well, you better not be. I don't want no commies in my car. No Christians either.


This little exchange between Bud and Otto was commonly heard during the Reagan era.

And then there was Kevin's homage to Corporate America and how everyone and anyone can be a success if they just put their mind to it:

Kevin: There's *beep* room to move as a fry cook. I could be manager in two years. King. God.

This is very much a Reaganite viewpoint.

And then there's a bit of Cold War commentary and the belief that nuclear war is winnable:

J. Frank Parnell: Ever been to Utah? Ra-di-a-tion. Yes, indeed. You hear the most outrageous lies about it. Half-baked goggle-box do-gooders telling everybody it's bad for you. Pernicious nonsense. Everybody could stand a hundred chest X-rays a year. They ought to have them, too. When they canceled the project it almost did me in.

Then a comment on the War on Drugs, another one of Reagan's political babies:

Lagarto Rodriguez: Hermanos Rodriguez do not approve of drugs.
Marlene: Neither do I, but it's my birthday.


Reagan was also responsible for mandatory seat-belt legislation:

Lite: Put your seatbelt on, boy. I don't ride with anybody 'less they wear their seatbelt. It's one of my rules.

Reagan also backed regimes which tortured their citizens:

Leila: I'd torture someone in a second if it was up to me.

Then there was the obligatory "I fought the war for your sort" types during that era:

Otto Plettschner, Rent-A-Cop: You're *beep* right I'm Plettschner! Otto Plettschner! Three times decorated in two world wars! I was killing people while you were still swimming around in your father's balls! You little scumbag! I worked five years in a slaughterhouse, and ten years as a prison guard in Attica!

And then of course, when Otto is listening to the TV in one scene, we hear this:

The president admitted that U.S. war planes have napalmed refugees camps in Southern Mexico. He explained that these camps were in fact guerrilla bases.

Well, if the PRESIDENT says that there's a threat in Latin America, then of course it must be true. This is the kind of BS Reagan and his party had been imposing on the US for quite some time.

This movie is definitely a scathing political commentary on Reaganism, which is still relevant today, since every president who has followed Reagan has been mindlessly continuing Reagan's policies to the point we're at now.

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Nice analysis, Stevicious-2. To Mikeexx - Relax. Two arguments here. 1. To appreciate the movie is it helpful to understand that Repo Man was intended as an indictment of Regan-era values? And 2. Was Reganaism really all bad?

'Absolutely yes' to 1. The film wasn't all that explicit about it, but art rarely comes right out and states the arguments implied. But it wasn't really only that or all 'liberal' criticism either. It skewers ex-hippie idealism and UFOlogist types too. It's about the era more than merely Reganism.

'mixed bag', IMO, to 2.


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It's not about an "era" at all. Aside from clearly period technology (old-style cathode-ray TV sets, ubiquitous lack of cell-phones, etc), it has the same timeless black-comedy appeal of "Dr. Strangelove".

"...art rarely comes right out and states the arguments implied"
Well, BAD art does, all the time (and that's usually a primary reason why it's bad).
Well, if the PRESIDENT says that there's a threat in Latin America, then of course it must be true.

So obviously it has to be Reagan bombing Latin America, as opposed to, say, Obama drone-striking Yemen.

Democrat and Republican administrations are as indistinguishable as Mountain Dew and Mellow Yellow: If you didn't see the label, you wouldn't know the difference.

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"It's about the era more than merely Reganism. "

That hit the nail right on the head!

Still Shooting With Film!

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However, all of that was subdued and in the background. Alex Cox waited for "Walker" to try something overtly political, and what a disaster that was!

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Repo Man was not to everyone's taste and I can't fault those who didn't 'get' it. It might have been somewhat impenetrable unless you lived a a certain time and had a sympathetic predisposition.


Not just a certain time, but a certain area. For those of us who grew up in California in general and the Los Angeles area in particular, Repo Man seemed like a great satire.

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Think of it like The Big Lebowski: don't worry about the story, just watch what's happening.

Or my isn't name...

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I've watched Lebowski 100 times trying to figure out how the story untangles, and I'll watch it 100 times more.

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It's funny, you know, after reading your post I came to realize that a lot of my fave movies have fairly ambiguous endings, I guess I really prefer them over the Star Wars or Jaws endings. Some people will say 'well, where did they go in that flying Malibu' whereas, myself, I like having all of those possibilities left out there, maybe they went to the White House, maybe they contacted more aliens, who knows? I appreciate your need for an open/shut story but sometimes they aren't like that, most good stories keep going on.

Life is always intense for a repo man.

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debunkerboy comes the closest. Actually, the film is a commentary on the Reagan Administration. The picture is so horrific, that my Criterion Blu-ray copy just came in the mail this afternoon. The wife and I have our evening's entertainment.

Kids trying to understand motion picture art. It does not compute. Please stay at your local Cineplex which offers 12 semi-large screens of PG rated CGI. No thinking required.

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I mean, what more do you want to a film ending then something as random as "what about a relationship?!" "fvck that!" and boarding an alien Chevy Malibu. It's brilliant.

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OK, thanks for your views and explanations. It was nice to see that people can still behave like adults in the internet =)

You see, madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little...push[laughs] ~ The Joker

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My mind and soul keeps coming back to Repo Man. Today I changed my rating from an 8 to a 9.

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this movie is comparable to the book of 'Genesis'. if you remember the 'throwaway' conversation with Miller earlier in the movie, the human race was started by people from the future traveling back in time via 'flying saucers'. so when Miller and Otto get in the '64 Chevy Malibu, and take off, they are traveling back in time to originate the human race. frickin' brilliant!

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I felt like you the first time I watched it. Eventually I watched it again. I don't know what the movie is about but I know that I learned to like it. A lot.

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A movie, if it aspires to a certain level of art rather than just mere entertainment or pushing people's pre-conditioned buttons, can be like a poem. It doesn't HAVE TO BE about any specific thing. It can be about many different related things at the same time, which, at first glance, to the uninitiated, might seem not related at all. In this film, you have conspiracies, government surveillance, UFO's, Punk Rock nihilist culture, hippies, youth restlessness, scientologists and many more things all satirized, but in only slightly over-the-top fashion that can also play at times as a "serious" "naturalistic" study of a bunch of Americans stuck in a terrible job. There are many ways of interpreting a film like this or similar ones like "The Trip" and "PsychOut" from the hippie era and "Spetters" from the late 1970's Motorcross/Disco scene. My own interpretation is: lower-middle-class rebel sick of his hippie parents and his idiotic punk-rock friends, descends to an underworld of "employment" not that far from Bukowski territory, where losers and misfits eek out an existence and enforce their own code. Remember that Otto (auto, automaton of society paradoxically shown road to freedom by those RE-POSSESSING OTTOS; Otto's soul is what is really being re-possessed in this flick) hates the job at first, considering it only for losers and the dregs of society, and only takes it when he sees no other option for himself. However, once he takes the job and gets to know these "losers" a bit, he discovers that they are not really losers as such but "misfits" just like himself and in their camaraderie he finds a new family, although, being a kid with attitude, he does not admit this to himself.

"Entertainment gives us what we want; art gives us what we don't know we want. T o confront a work of art is to confront oneself — but aspects of oneself previously unrecognized." -- Gene Youngblood, "Expanded Cinema" (1970)

http://www.vasulka.org/Kitchen/PDF_ExpandedCinema/ExpandedCinema.html

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God damn, man. Well said. Bonus points for working Bukowski into the explanation.

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