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Repo Chick

A spoiled heiress goes into the repossession biz and stumbles onto anti-golf vegan terrorists in helmer Alex Cox's goofy comedy.

With:
With: Jaclyn Jonet, Miguel Sandoval, Dei Zamora, Alex Feldman, Chloe Webb, Rosanna Arquette, Robert Beltran, Karen Black, Xander Berkeley, Frances Bay, Zahn McClarnon, Jenna Zablocki, Danny Arroyo, Jennifer Balgobin, Tom Finnegan, Linda Callahan, Alex Cox.

After being disinherited, a spoiled heiress goes into the repossession biz and stumbles onto anti-golf vegan terrorists in helmer Alex Cox’s goofy comedy “Repo Chick.” Although moderately enjoyable if not taken too seriously, the pic will prove a sadly all-too-expected disappointment for those anticipating a sequel to match Cox’s much-loved 1984 cult hit, “Repo Man.” Shot almost entirely using green screens to situate characters in a world of toy train sets and animation, “Chick” makes a cheeky virtue of its low budget, but despite the occasional droll line, it hasn’t quite got the horsepower to break out of limited distribution.

A wacky blend of leftist, anti-establishment politics, eye-searing colors, outre costumes and manic overacting, “Repo Chick” could be likened to what you would get if Michael Moore directed an episode of Nick Jr.kiddie series “Lazy Town.” In other words, it’s fun but all over the map, an oddity that will prove an acquired taste for some, but way too annoying for others. Only in glimpses do the sparkle, snap and dry ironic wit that made “Repo Man” such a pleasure shine through in helmer Cox’s self-penned script.

The plot kicks off with bratty, Paris Hiltonian heiress Pixxi de la Chasse (Jaclyn Jonet) being disinherited by her family (played by Xander Berkeley, Frances Bay and Karen Black) after one too many joyrides without a driver’s license and public dalliances with boy-band backup dancers. Her only way back into the family’s good graces is to prove she can knuckle down and fend for herself with a real job.

When repo outfit Velvet Glove Acceptance Corp. seizes Pixxi’s wheels, she sweet-talks owner Aguas (Robert Beltran) and his associate Arizona Grey (Cox regular Miguel Sandoval) into employing her. The state of the current economy means there’s plenty of biz for repo men these days, and she does an ace job with her first gig, evicting some Freddie Mac loan defaulters.

Unfortunately, for reasons too complicated to explain, the pic morphs halfway through into a thriller spoof, as Pixxi goes in pursuit of a stolen antique train that’s being used to carry missiles by a gang of environmental terrorists. The terrorists’ ultimate demands are for the President of the United States to close all golf courses (providing the opportunity for a ranting message against the wastefulness of golf), ban the sport entirely and also make the entire government go vegan.

Thesp ensemble (many of whom, like Sandoval, are not just Cox veterans but original cast members from “Repo Man”) gamely throw themselves into the pic’s crazy whirl and inject sufficient manic energy to make it all seem like a harmless, diverting lark. But it’s only when a genuinely funny gag comes along (for instance, when an answering machine intones it has “39 angry messages. Angry message one … “) that you realize how few and far between the laughs have been.

A little post-Venice editing might lend the pic more zip, although it’s hard to see where cuts wouldn’t make the plot even more baffling. Other tech credits are cheap if cheerful.

Repo Chick

Production: A Collateral Image Project, Industrial Entertainment production, in association with BBC Films, Defilm, Paper Street. (International sales: Absurda, Irvine, Calif.) Produced by Alex Cox, Eric Bassett, Daren Hicks, Simon Tams, Benji Kohn, Austin Stark, Bingo Gubelmann. Executive producers, Ken Meyer, Tod Davies, Chris Papavasiliou. Directed, written, edited by Alex Cox.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W, HD), Steven Fierberg; music, Dan Wool, Kid Carpet; production designer, Nick Plotquin; art director, Aaron Meziere; costume designer, Alexis Scott; sound (Dolby Digital), Zsolt Magyar; sound designer, Richard Beggs; visual effects supervisor, Eric Leven. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Horizons), Sept. 8, 2009. Running time: 91 MIN.

With: With: Jaclyn Jonet, Miguel Sandoval, Dei Zamora, Alex Feldman, Chloe Webb, Rosanna Arquette, Robert Beltran, Karen Black, Xander Berkeley, Frances Bay, Zahn McClarnon, Jenna Zablocki, Danny Arroyo, Jennifer Balgobin, Tom Finnegan, Linda Callahan, Alex Cox.

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