Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008) (part 4 of 7)
We morph back to the real world, and Nathan begins to sing about how he blames himself for his wife’s death, while we get live-action flashbacks to everything we just saw in the cartoon! (Everything in these flashbacks, particularly and especially the baby, looked ten times more real in the comic book.) He screams at another picture of her, about how her not being alive is forcing him to hold his daughter prisoner, because he misses Marni so much, and also because he might be a serial killer. Well, yeah.
He ducks into his Repo-Cave, moaning about how much he hates being the Repo Man, but from the guy he’s got tied up down there to the wicked grin on his face, homeboy looks pretty stoked about being a hitman, all things considered. I wonder if Anthony Stewart Head had the same acting coach as Julie Cox?
Also, why would he bring his victim to his house? His house, which contains his daughter? His daughter from which he is trying to hide the fact that he is the Repo Man?
But before he can slit the guy’s throat, we cut to another flying billboard, with pirates [?] crooning on the soundtrack about the wonders of GeneCo. Sure, why not? They’re already shilling for fish sticks.
Meanwhile, Rotti’s kids are standing around the warehouse, and they’re all flanked by hotcha bimbo/himbo background dancers. (Seriously, I think that the GeneCo bylaws must have a clause about all Largo family members being flanked at all times.) Amber and Luigi are bickering about who’s in charge, while Pavi muses about how wonderful it would be if the two of them were in an incestuous relationship. Only, with more cursing.
Side note: I’m not against cursing, in fact I’m a shit-slinging F-bomb dropping bitch-ass motherfucker, motherfucker, but unless it’s in rap form, swearing in a song just sounds stupid. Seriously, pick any line from Reservoir Dogs and try singing it. Sounds ridiculous, right?
Luigi, displaying the same kind of vocal range that made John Carradine so famous, and acting more reminiscent of Dick York than anyone who belongs in a horror movie, says he should be in charge because he enjoys cutting new holes to fuck women through, and I have a sneaking suspicion that he doesn’t mean glory holes.
Pavi, displaying a disconcerting lack of knowledge of how fractions work (ten out of nine, really?), says he should be in charge because all the “geneterns” love it when he sexually harasses them.
Oh, while they’re doing this, they’re slicing up their background dancers. Oh, and all of this is being played for laughs [?], with big histrionic gestures and cartoon sproings and slide-whistles on the soundtrack. The hell? I guess since this succession thing is the unifying plot of the movie it makes sense that we should care about it as little as possible.
Before we can even process this, we cut to Shilo watching TV. On the screen is the big celebrity of this world, Blind Mag (“Hi! I’m Blind Mag!”), the one who’ll be giving this farewell performance we keep hearing about, extolling the virtues of eyes that digitally record your memories so you can relive them over and over again. You know, it’s only my friendship with Rick Sloane that makes me feel comfortable with saying this, but in terms of whiplashing shifts between two things that come completely out of nowhere, it easily outpaces (a) that scene in Hobgoblins where, immediately following a monster attack, the guy in pink shorts feels an overwhelming urge to have phone sex with a woman who pretends she’s at the zoo and (b) the scene mere minutes later where the hero’s prudish girlfriend randomly picks up a newspaper and, after seeing an ad for a nightclub, decides that not only does she want to be a stripper, but wants to become one right that very second.
As for the eye thing? Don’t worry, you’ll only have to remember it for another 30 minutes.
Shilo gets a message on her wristwatch (who is she, Butch Cassidy?). It’s from Rotti, who’s in his limo now. He says she doesn’t know him, but her mother was once “very dear” to him. He tells her, in that stilted and very bored voice that’s one of Paul Sorvino’s specialties, that he can help her with the whole cure thing. She’s supposed to meet this stranger she’s never met promising wonder drugs that don’t exist at mommy’s tomb. That’s convenient. She can cash that check from the Nigerian finance minister on the way over.
We melt into another cartoon backstory about Rotti and how he was all up on Nathan’s biz-nazz (and, without actually saying it, implies that he might be Shilo’s real father). When Nathan’s wife got sick, Rotti got even with Nathan for stealing Marni from him by sabotaging his attempts to cure her in an elaborate and circuitous plan, the end result of which was to make Nathan into the Repo Man.
Makes more sense than Naked Weapon’s backstory, anyway.
Live action again. Rotti’s plotting to make Shilo his heir. He addresses the camera directly as, once more, we live-action flashback to things they just fucking showed us in the cartoon! Although this is almost worth it just for the very brief shot of Rotti hilariously quivering with rage as he lurks in the shadows at Nathan and Marni’s wedding. Seriously, it looks like he just got zapped by a taser.
See, here’s the thing, Mr. Zdunich, Mr. Smith. Even if these cartoon inserts were afterthoughts to address material you’d previously filmed live-action (and I’m not convinced they are), it’s really kind of overdoing things to do all of your backstories twice in a row. And by “overdoing things” I mean “really fucking irritating.”
The chorus picks up again about the things you see in a graveyard (oy!) as Shilo dons her gas mask and makes her way back to the crypt, making us start to worry that the film is folding back on itself. We’ve fallen into an infinite causal loop and we’re only a half-hour in.
Anyway, Shilo’s mask disappears as soon as she enters the graveyard (whoops! continuity gaffe!), which is unfortunate, since Rotti’s goons gas her and shove her into his limo. (I guess the gas mask read the script.)
Rotti’s all smiles as he tries to seduce Shilo to the dark side, and my God but Paul Sorvino can’t hit the high notes. And, while it’s mostly just been the terrible songwriting until now, I realize he doesn’t have any rhythm, either. It’s like Max Headroom trying to do slam-poetry. Only, without the stuttering, and thank goodness because the level of repetition in this film is really becoming sad by this point.
Rotti promises Shilo a cure for her disease if she’ll be his “date”, and throws in a chance to meet Blind Mag. (How does he know that Shilo is a fan? Or is Blind Mag this world’s Lady Gaga?) Shilo has her doubts, but Rotti pulls every pedophile trick in the book, and before she can answer, suddenly we’re looking at Repo cranking up a phonograph and taking his mask off a stand, and we wonder when the hell that cut happened. (There’s even a little phonograph scratch, which is the soundtrack-cliché equivalent of “What the—?”) This movie is trying very hard to be set in a Brazil-esque used future, what with the phonographs and loudspeakers and gas masks and whatnot mixing with the Blade Runner flying ads and buildings bedecked with neon Korean lettering, and for the most part, while it’s certainly a curious jumble and extremely derivative, the art direction is a lot more successful than anything you have to actually listen to in this movie.
I guess what I’m saying is, if you must watch this movie, mute the volume and put on a Justin Timberlake CD. Or, anything, really.
Repo dances with his mask, sings along to his record, and taunts his victim about how his is a “thankless job” and “penile tissue, inch by inch” will be removed. Once again, he looks pretty fucking stoked to be the Repo Man. He guts his victim like a fish, pulls out whatever it is he’s repossessing (anatomy was never my best subject in medical school, not that it matters), puts on his mask, and removes more organs. His mask disappears in between shots, but that’s okay, because he’s having a blast working the corpse like a ventriloquist’s dummy. You know, the more this goes on, the more it becomes apparent that Mr. Head is the only one in the film who can actually sing, and even he sounds terrible right now. I know he thinks he sounds tough and scary, but he really just sounds like he has a cold.
Then, oh no, the horror of what he’s doing sets in, and he has little recourse but to… calmly rinse the blood off his costume and watch his own Blind-Mag-is-coming-the-Opera commercial.
The commercial this time comes with commentary from two sportscasters.
And I haven’t been this excited since I realized that to make it as a writer, you should burn the stories you wrote in seventh grade, not try to make them into screenplays. Plus which: burning things is a million times more fun than, say, watching this movie.
Sportscaster Moron is also excited about the hottest event of the year: GeneCo’s Italian-themed Renn Faire… Okay, that’s it! What the hell, guys? Was high school really so bad for you that you have to justify every geeky thing you were into? Sure, it wasn’t easy being the only Michael Jackson fan at my school, but you know what? I didn’t write him into Kingdom Rattus! I got over what everyone else said and went on with my life.
Okay, okay, calm down, you can do this, there’s only… shit, another hour or so? Dammit.