To say Repo Chick was critically loved would be somewhat of an exaggeration. In fact, between the actual first screening (somewhere in 2009) and its proper release (on DVD in 2011), not many films were given such a bad press as this film. Surely all those critics couldn’t be wrong… Or could they…?
Repo Chick shouldn’t be reviewed as any other film. Not even as any other film by Alex Cox. Cox is of course famous for hosting a BBC2 movie show in the late 80s to mid 90s as well as directing a string of cult movies. With Sid and Nancy and Repo Men, he even helmed two cult classics. You might want to see Cox’s movies on DVD, but it’s not always easy. Walker was deemed so controversial the distributors would rather leave it rot on the shelves than allowing the fans to watch it. In the times people still watched films on VHS, Cox himself once found his film in a store… it cost 80 pounds.
Then again, Alex Cox isn’t the easiest man on the planet. Nevertheless, it is he who wrote and directed a cult classic such as Repo Man, so what did the distributors do when they heard Cox was thinking of a sequel to said classic?
The answer is: they tried to block the movie from being made and – to make things worse – chose übertwat Jude Law to star in a horrible film called Repo Men. In an era when intellectual property is as much of a hot issue as copyrights, that was a gruesome knee-jerk reaction. The company should’ve known Alex Cox wouldn’t leave it at that… so there’s no funding for a sequel? Well, he’ll make it anyway. Who needs a budget when you have a green screen? Surely not Alex Cox!
Repo Chick was made on a shoestring budget, but with a cast of Cox familiars (Miguel Sandoval, Xander Berkeley, Zander Schloss, …) and even some high profile names like Rosanna Arquette and Karen Black.
The film even has a plot. Well, sort of… Pixxi, a rich society girl, is disinherited by her family after the umpteenth scandal (Pixxi is preety much the sum of Lohan plus Hilton) and the only way to get her greedy hands back on the family capital is by getting a proper job. Eventually, Pixxi becomes a repo chick and is surprisingly good at it. She even manages to track down a train containing nuclear material (think of the green glowing trunk of Repo Men and replace the image by a train coach), but the train is in the hands of terrorists who plan to destroy L.A. if the president doesn’t ban golf and become a vegetarian.
And that, my friend, is the most coherent synopsis of the film you’ll ever read. Weirdly enough, the odd plot and the unusual direction (of using green screens and maquettes) was not liked by a lot of reviewers who lamented on this awful film by a “punk director”. I can live with the fact that people don’t like this film, but surely putting people in front of ridiculously unrealistic backgrounds and filming a toy train passing by some figurines is a bit of proof the director has not lost his punk attitude. Near the end, there is even a scene where two actors are sitting in a crowd and the rest of the audience exists of a backdrop of poorly made wax figures. Which brings me to only one important question: how dare people take Repo Chick serious?
It’s hard to say what Repo Chick looks like, but back in the days when Alex Cox hosted Moviedrome BBC2 also showed a programme called “Liquid Television”. Liquid TV was made by MTV and if you never saw it, there’s some proof of it on YouTube. Liquid TV was the origins of Aeon Flux, Winter Steele and even of Beavis and Butthead. It also contained a cartoonesque little show called Dog-Boy, with real actors walking around in fake background with odd clothes and Mattel-like wigs. Crimewave, an early Coen brothers movie, also looked like this. Repo Chick looks equally anarchic as Dog-boy and Crimewave. Had it been made in the late 1980s, people wouldn’t have made such a fuss about it. But Repo Chick wouldn’t have looked the same had it been made twenty years earlier: Pixxi’s style and attitude are very much of this day and age. She’s everything you hate about those paparazzi-loving it-girls and she’s the heroine of this film. Deal with it or go back to your hippie hideout.
And yeah, the plot doesn’t make a lot of sense. People who complain about that should really go back and look at the extreme credibility of Repo Men or Straight to Hell. Even Walker, a historical movie, included scenes with zippos and helicopters. That, dear friends, is the style of Alex Cox. A man whose reaction to a company’s njet (and their horrible insult of a Jude Law ripoff) is to make a movie that looks faker than anything you’ll see in 2011. But peel away the fake background and what you see is something else. It’s a giant finger. Guess which one…