Saturday, January 22, 2011

Surprise! Repo Chick is a dizzy, funny, likeable romp!

When I started hearing about Repo Chick, the non-sequel to Alex Cox's 1984 madcap classic movie Repo Man, it sounded promising. At first.

Then came this trailer. That's when something inside me said..."uh-oh..."

I should not have doubted that Cox had a couple of aces up his sleeve, in that the pacing of the movie is totally unlike the trailer, and obviously a lot of the shots were given major tweaks before picture lock, but after the trailer was made. The finished movie looks a bit better than the shots you see in the trailer. Lots of refinements, finished animation (yes, this is why I'm writing about it here at Cartoon Geeks) and better composites make a big difference.

But even more importantly, the trailer gives you zero clue about the sheer exuberance that is palpable from the screen. In the official behind-the-scenes doc for the movie, Better Than Money, what you hear again and again is how fun making the movie was. And this was in spite of equipment heists, long days, break-neck shooting schedules and frustrations with overheating Red One cameras.

It's a silly movie. But then again, Repo Man was silly too...sausage shaped aliens in the trunk of a '62 Chevy Malibu, a delirious atomic scientist, punk rockers, an oversexed UFO cultist, running gags about generic grocery products and "Little Tree" car air fresheners, and lots of punk rock.

The only level Repo Chick is serious on is the same level Repo Man was. Repo Man was the product of the Reagan era, the militarism, the corporatism, and the endless interventions in Central and South America which felt like they could boil over into endless war. Likewise, Repo Chick is the product of the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney Administration, the insanity of the Global War On Terra, the rise and fall of the housing bubble and house-as-piggy-bank-to-break, and the consequences of the Reagan Administration coming home to roost.

When Reagan finally shuffled off the mortal coil, the one thing I wanted to do was rewatch Repo Man, it's that much of a document of the time and place I grew up in. I imagine when I need to be reminded of the train wreck (and yes, trains factor into this plot) that was Bush/Cheney, I'll grab this DVD from the files and watch it. And laugh my silly ass off.

If you want a really awesome window into exactly what went on in production, including the use of both drawn and dimensional stop-motion animation and entirely virtual sets, take a look at Better Than Money and see what went on. Then check this out on DVD or Netflix. Unfortunately the short run at te IFC theatre in New York and the Downtown Independent in LA was it for a theatrical run.

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