Repo Chick- Saturday Morning Cartoon?
Updated: 5 days ago
I have been curious about this 2009 flick since it first came out. I remember the immediate reaction from fans was pretty negative. I figured I would catch it later. Fast-forward thirteen years.
I understand the negativity Repo Chick received upon its release. "From the Director of Repo Man & Sid and Nancy" coupled by calling the flick "Repo Chick" immediately writes a check that this little film has no hope of cashing.
Repo Man is a classic punk sci-fi-comedy-adventure film with attitude to spare and a soundtrack that does not stop. It speaks to and of the era in which it was made. I saw it when I was a teenager, and I connected with the on-screen protagonist played by Emilio Estevez. I loved the shaky friendships he formed with the other Repo Men, especially Harry Dean Stanton. I still quote this movie. "Plate of shrimp" still has relevance. The moment Emilio and Harry Dean repo the car and toss the packages they find in the back seat out the window laughing, only for the audience to see it was stacks of cold hard cash they were throwing away, it sealed their fate. They were repo men for life.
I think Repo Man connected with a lot of people at the time of its release and then even more when it came out on VHS and cable. It was a middle finger to the establishment. It was a cry against everything society's "ordinary people" valued. In the words of Stanton's character, "Look at those assholes, ordinary fucking people. I hate 'em."
This movie shared a voice with an entire generation of filmgoers who ate cereal from white boxes that simply said "Cereal" while they tried to figure out the world around them, just like Emilio as Otto.
It makes sense that fans came to Repo Chick some fifteen years later with a hope, an expectation, that Alex Cox would capture that same spirit and attitude again.
Repo Chick is far removed from Repo Man. Some call it a loose remake, but I'm not sure the two films are really supposed to have anything to do with each other. Maybe they both exist in the same Repo-verse, but if you come to Repo Chick expecting Repo Man, you're going to have a lousy time. (Maybe it is a "spiritual sequel," but that's the only connection I could make.)
Repo Chick concerns a cute but dumb as a rock and insufferable asshole Pixxi De La Chasse (played by Jaclyn Jonet), a rich entitled white girl that you hate as soon as she is on screen. She is cut from her family fortune and can only save face by getting a job. She gets a job working as a "repo person" with long time repo man Arizona Gray (Miguel Sandoval).
The plot mixes in six missing Soviet bombs, a ghost train with a giant bounty attached to it and a plot to criminalize golfing.
This movie was shot digitally, completely in front of a green screen. To me, I feel like Cox was delivering his own version of a 70's/80's Saturday Morning cartoon, back when they were violent and wrong and did not really teach a lesson. Jonet as Pixxi can be seen as Bugs Bunny, who really is a bad guy when you think about it. Sure, he's charming and sarcastic, but he's kind of a jerk too. But he can be funny. Pixxi is the same character.
The online consensus of Repo Chick is pretty much that it's a lame failure and a horrible sequel to Repo Man. I think people are missing the point.
Repo Chick speaks of its own era (2009) as much as Repo Man spoke of its own (1984). Repo Chick addresses the collapse of the economy in 2008 and the get rich quick schemes of the time and the politicization of special interest concerns that are worse now in the real world than they were thirteen years ago. (When terrorists demand the White House make the country go vegan and they only agree to going vegetarian, the terrorists pout because "It's not the same thing!" I mean, I can kind of see this happening, sadly.)
The look of the film is very much like a Saturday Morning live-action/cartoon show. Cox's punk attitude is in high gear, as this flick seems to be a middle finger to the kind of empty, effects -driven big studio drivel that constantly assaults cineplexes. (And, again, thirteen years later it is a hell of a lot worse now with Disney lording over Hollywood.)
Did I think it was a great flick? No, but I liked it way better than 90% of the opinions posted on line that I read. I thought it was funny, and found myself laughing more times than I was lead to believe I would. I dug the whole look of Toy City and consider the flick the result of coupling 40-year-old Saturday morning cartoons with 70's Midnight Movies.
In fact, I feel like this film may find an audience if it did get some kind of midnight movie revival. There's no way a hopped-up crowd on caffeine, alcohol and whatever else wouldn't make for a fun viewing.
The cast is fun and includes Rosanna Arquette, Karen Black , Del Zamora, Robert Beltran, Zander Berkley and Frances Bay.
If you've seen Repo Chick and you didn't quite connect to it, I would encourage you to give it another watch. Watch it with different eyes. Leave expectations behind and watch it on its own terms. You might not love it, but you might see an entirely different and unique flick.