Jude Law and Forest Whitaker star in a film called “Repo Men,” which opens March 19, and has been causing a lot of people to wonder where they’ve heard this all before.
The first general assumption is that it’s a remake of the 1984 Alex Cox film “Repo Man,” a new wave/punk classic featuring Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton as repo men living lives of druggy abandon while the music of Iggy Pop, Circle Jerks and Fear plays in the background. If you’ve never seen it, put it on your Netflix now – it’s a film with addictive energy that makes Emilio’s descent into Mighty Ducks territory all the sadder.
Turns out, though, that “Repo Men” has nothing to do with that film, but is actually a dystopian-future film about a society where artificial human organs are for sale – and, if you don’t pay your bill, for automatic repossession. So while fans of the first film breathed easy, the plot sounds very similar to that of “Repo: The Genetic Opera,” a garish emo-punk opera released last year that achieved semi-cult-hit status, and which I can’t describe in full because I spent nearly three hours after watching it scratching at my eyes and ears with the tenacity of a mountain lion clawing at a dead gazelle trying to remove its sights and sounds from my mind. It was fucking ghastly, like someone took every silly, messed-up idea they had since they were six and threw it up on a movie screen. Consider this: It co-stars Paul Sorvino; Sarah Brightman, the best-selling soprano of all time; and Paris Hilton. Is there any way the three of them make sense together in one project?
After seeing it, the answer is clearly: no.
But while fans of that movie are gearing up the “irate” meter, for me, “Repo Men” is a clear throwback to a classic Monty Python sketch from their film “The Meaning of Life,” a movie the Pythons have described as their least favorite for the subdued creative inspiration that went into making it, but which I find equal to their earlier outlings. There’s a scene in the film called “Live Organ Transplants,” which features John Cleese and Michael Palin ringing a man’s doorbell to inquire, “Can we have your liver?” They then establish that the man has a liver donor’s card – and do their nasty repo business. It’s a classic scene – and remarkably similar (minus its comedy) to the plot of “Repo Men.”
So was “Repo Men” ripped off? Or with organ black markets a reality in certain countries and economic upheaval a societal constant, is it simply one of those creative notions that has a certain inevitability?
Either way, it’s interesting to see who the film will piss off most. Stay tuned – it’s currently scheduled to hit theaters March 19.