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Trilogy of Error, Chapter Two: "Repo! The Genetic Opera"
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30 Oct 2010 EST

- by David Guzman, Staff Writer

Making a movie like “Repo! The Genetic Opera” is like the electric company sending you a Christmas card with a bill inside. The material is the card, a poorly executed attempt at showing sincerity and thought for its audience. The film’s purpose is the bill, whose sender insults your intelligence by hiding it in something that’s pretty much worthless – the whole thing is a ruse to sugarcoat the fact that it wants your money. The sad part is that in real life, it gets it in advance.

The film, which critics tore to pieces back in 2008, is about two things – gore and singing. The funny thing, though, is that it’s harder to listen to than it is to watch. The songs are expository and functional, with so much urgency that they become more important than the story. All they do is make a stage for the climax, which is one of those scenes where everybody’s paths coincide at the most appropriate time. Then they sing some more.

The only character who doesn’t know about the world she lives in happens to be our heroine, Shilo (Alexa Vega). Her father, Nathan (Anthony Stewart Head), hides her in her room, where he repeatedly stops by to give her medicine for a life-threatening disease. There’s more to him than meets the eye, though: He’s got a job as a Repo Man, which requires him to track people down, relieve them of body parts and give them to a company named GeneCo.

Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino), the boss who runs GeneCo, makes a fortune selling organs at a time when surgery is a sacrament. Anybody who can’t pay is killed when a Repo Man calls in the debt, which isn’t as show-stopping as it sounds.

Meanwhile, Rotti’s children fight over who gets the business when he dies. It’s a Catch-22 for Rotti, who has to choose between a son with a terribly botched facelift (Nivek Ogre), another whose greed is worth more to him than life itself (Bill Moseley) and an insatiable daughter (Paris Hilton) who seldom goes anywhere without her muscle-bound acolytes.

Other characters turn up throughout, but never mind – you’d need a notebook to keep track of all the things about this movie that fail. The quick cutting makes focusing on the material close to impossible, like reading on a bumper car. That’s getting kind of technical, but if you wind up watching this and feel your eyeballs throbbing, you’ll know why.

The only thing “Repo!” gets right are the comic-book asides that sidestep all that singing, which even the characters think is kind of extreme. When Shilo sings for her father during one of their little “talks,” she pushes him over the edge: “Please!” he sings. “Shut up!”

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