Industrial Entertainment // 2010 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mac McEntire // February 2nd, 2011
An unlikely hero in a chaotic world.
Let us pause for a moment and consider director Alex Cox. The guy is arguably most famous for Repo Man, a bona fide cult classic comedy with a gritty, punk rock edge. Cox had a few Hollywood pictures after that, most notably Sid and Nancy for more punk-ish attitude. Following that film, mainstream success eluded Cox, with a long list of obscure foreign films and "he almost directed that" projects. Now, after more than a decade of trying to get a Repo Man sequel off the ground, instead we get a loosely-connected follow-up in the form of Repo Chick. Is it a return to form that will live up to the fans' expectations, or is Cox desperately going back to the well?
After wealthy blonde party girl Pixxi (Jaclyn Jonet, Searchers 2.0) is cut off and disinherited by her family, she has to do the unthinkable and get a job. Her car is repossessed, so she and her punk rocker friends confront the head of the repo agency (Miguel Sandoval, Medium). He's impressed by her and gives her a job. Pixxi quickly becomes the best repo chick in the business, staying perky and stylish while uncovering a secret plot involving a long-lost superweapon left over from the cold war.
A few things you should know about this movie before going in: One, almost the entire movie was filmed in front of a green screen, and it shows. The grimy "seedy underbelly of L.A." atmosphere we remember from the first one isn't present, replaced with overly cartoony backgrounds. Two, there are none of the characters from the original. Allegedly, a cease and desist order from Universal Studios made certain of that.
The tone of this movie is hard to describe. The basic concept of a Paris Hilton type working for a repo agency doesn't lend itself to as many jokes as you'd think. The goofy CGI backgrounds make the characters look like they're in the Toontown scenes from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and are more distracting than anything else. The plot is nonsensical, the acting is obnoxiously over the top, and why is a pink-clad rich heiress best friends with a gang of punkers?
The actors do what they can. Jonet seems game for anything, and Sandoval exudes some laid-back cool, so much that I wanted to see a whole other movie about just his character. A few other familiar faces show up for amusing cameos, including Rosanna Arquette (Desperately Seeking Susan), Xander Berkeley (24), Karen Black (House of 1000 Corpses) and Robert Beltran (Star Trek: Voyager). The other actors, though, will likely annoy viewers with their wild overacting.
This is a stupid movie, but I suspect it will have its fans, simply because of how stupid it is. It falls into the category of movies that are bad on purpose, as if the creators know their own movie stinks, and they want you to know they're in on the joke. You could also make the case that it's a "punk rock" movie. Actual punk music isn't featured, but, in a very general sense, this could be considered punk. Why? Because not unlike punk rock, the movie has a stripped down "DIY" feel, as well as an anti-establishment attitude simmering underneath all the cheesy jokes. Punk rock is also famous for being played at ridiculously loud volumes. This movie isn't loud in an audio sense, but it is "loud" in other ways, thanks to the stingingly bright visuals and hammy acting.
For this review, DVD Verdict received an advance screener copy that is likely to be different from the ones available for purchase. The picture and audio are decent, with the cotton candy CGI backgrounds being bright and vivid. Extras are a short featurette and the trailer.
I'm certain Alex Cox has another truly great film in him, if not several. Repo Chick, sadly, is not the one.
Punk rock or not, it's guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Industrial Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Video: Trailer