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When the news broke that Alex Cox (writer and director of of the 1984 cult film Repo Man) was considering suing the makers of the recently-released Repo Men, film critic and entertainment lawyer Adam Clarke was consulted for legal council. Clarke has allowed The Scope to reprint his letter to Cox regarding the case.
Dear Mr. Cox,
You allege that Universal Studios’ Repo Men has been released to cash-in on the continued cult success of your film. It also interferes with plans to release your own cash-in sequel, Repo Chick [The understandably hard-to-find trailer for Repo Chick has been spotted at www.tinyurl.com/yb9m64m], a film that looks like Southland Tales, only with blue-screen work on the same level of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. [One of The Room’s many faults was that all exterior shots in the film were not shot on location, but ineptly reproduced on a set with the backgrounds added in later. See here: www.tinyurl.com/yae3c3x]
Both films follow unlikeable characters doing an unpleasant jobs, referencing their personal beliefs and “repo codes” along the way, but that’s where the similarities end. Your film’s plot involves a young punk becoming a car repossessor and happening upon a nuclear-powered Chevy Mustang that may-or-may-not be a time machine. Repo Men’s plot owes more to 2008’s Repo! The Genetic Opera [Blade Runner + Rocky Horror! www.repo-opera.com], but, as a lawyer, I can honestly say that I care about the facts as little as you do.
In the pseudo-futuristic world of Repo Men, expensive artificial organs can be purchased on credit. Jude Law and Forest Whitaker star as a bromantic pair of hired goons who slaughter those buyers who’ve become delinquent, and bring the artificial bits back to their employer (Liev Schreiber, delivering an admirably dickish performance). Their lives take a predictable turn when Law requires an artificial heart and inevitably falls behind on his payments, pitting him against Whitaker.
The action you should pursue, Mr. Cox, would be to instead file a class action suit against the film with the casts and crews of Blade Runner, Pulp Fiction, Brazil and the aforementioned Opera, all of which are more heavily ripped-off than yours. Repo Men director Miguel Sapochnick and screenwriters Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner are so bereft of ideas that they even steal from The Matrix for one of the climactic fight sequences. And who does that anymore?
If I were you, Mr. Cox, I wouldn’t concern myself with Repo Men, and instead be proud that your free-association comedy still strikes a chord more than 25 years after it was made. You should cease any further council and treat yourself to a nice plate of shrimp.