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Potato Dreams of America

USA 2021
produced by
Mischa Jakupcak, Wes Hurley, Eliza Flug (executive), Sarah Crowe (executive), Mel Eslyn (executive)
directed by Wes Hurley
starring Marya Sea Kaminski, Tyler Bocock, Sera Barbieri, Hersh Powers, Jonathan Bennett, Sophia Mitri Schloss, Dan Lauria, Lea DeLaria, Lauren Tewes, Alycia Delmore, Jule Johnson, Annette Toutonghi, James Grixoni, Nick Sage Palmieri, Alice Bridgforth, Darlene Sellers, Forrest Campbell, Nicole Santora, Henry DiStefano, Amy Love, Cameron Lee Price, Drew Highlands, Clyde Petersen, Jordan Iosua Taylor, Gus Lanza, Megan Grace Tuohy, Aaron Jin, L. Gabriel Gonda, Eban Tracy, Quinlan Corbett, Drew Cardillo, Max Christofferson, Max Willoughby, Justin Huertas, Dylan Smith, Ruby Mimosa, Jimmi Cook, Woody Shticks, Lady Rizo, Stephen Hando, Alexandra Tavares, Samie Detzer, Brenden Williams, Sarah Rudinoff, Davora Lindner, Dexter Morgenstern, Ever Araucto, Marvin Mecwan, Elliot Gantner, Benjamin Camp, Bo Mellinger, Alex Lichtenhan, Carter Coonrod, Adé Cônnére, Rebecca Davis, Nava Ruthfield, Emmett Montgomery, Paul Budraitis, Paris Original, Mandy Price, Jesse Bell-Jones, Sara Porkalob, Tim Absalonson, Michael Place, Chris Pitts, Samantha Detzer, Hisam Goueli, Luminous Pariah, Consuelo Aduviso, Cynthia Linet, Bailey Thiel, Michael Monicatti, Izzy Richter, Dolores Rossman, Devin Bannon, Kamren Bell, Ro Yoon, Alan Sutherland, David Gehrman, Opal Peachy, Randy Phillips
written by Wes Hurley, music by Catherine Joy, Joshua Kohl

review by
Mike Haberfelner

The Soviet Union, the late 1980s, shortly before the country's overdue collapse: Potato (Hersh Powers) is a dreamer, and he's in love with American movies, dreaming to go to the US to become a filmmaker himself - but for being a dreamer he's bullied at school. His mum Lena (Sera Barbieri) is a prison doctor who becomes more and more disillusioned with the system when she's repeatedly asked to write false death certificates for killed convicts. Then Perestroika does away with  the failed "union", but really very little changes, so Lena chooses to become a mail order bride to be able to move to the US and also save her son from having to serve in the Russian military.

The US for Lena and Potato (now played by Marya Sea Kaminski and Tyler Bocock, respectively) proves to be the land of plenty of course, even though they can't understand all of American culture, like how is owning a murder weapon like a gun compatible with Christian faith (and of course they're not alone in wondering about that), and Lena has some problems adjusting to her right wing "husband" John (Dan Lauria), but anything's better than going back to Russia. Potato meanwhile has his sexual awakening - and within the more permissive American culture he can finally admit to himself he's gay. Eventually he even musters up enough courage to tell his mother - who to his surprise couldn't be happier and encourages him to live out his sexuality. Thing is, eventually John is bound to find out, and when he does he's less than enthusiastic. But there's a secret hidden in John's own past ...

 

Now with finding one's own cultural identity in a foreign country, and finding one's sexual identity against the grain, this film pretty much tackles two big topics in tandem, which sounds like a bit of a recipe for failure - and that said, Potato Dreams of America is one heck of an entertaining movie, thanks first and foremost to treat its central topics with the right amount of irony but without ever drifting off into moronic lows, which is of course also helped by a light-footed direction, a script peopled by relatable characters who are brought to life by a competent cast, and a just in general inclusive but also fun attitude that's likely to suck one in, no matter what your sexual or even geographical orientation.

 

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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