Potato Dreams of America (2022) Film Review- Armessa Movie News

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There are two stories in Potato Dreams of America.

First, there’s a comedy about the Soviet Union awakening from a long nightmare of repression, and one boy discovering he may not be the precise model of his nation. 

Then, when American society shows up, the film turns into a grounded story about social progress and its weird displays in past decades. 

These stories are melt together in an autobiography by Wes Hurley that feels unbelievable at first. Its humor doesn’t add up, and it feels like a sketch show at times. However, the progression has a path that isn’t fixed on drama or comedy. It’s something much more blunt and risky. Potato Dreams of America moves comfortably between comedy and drama. As an audience it isn’t hard to follow the pace, which does good for the delivery of the film’s message. 

However, it also makes Potato’s (or should I say Vasili?) character story less serious and less relevant. And also some scenes are awkward in tone considering the rapid pace they are framed in. For example, take the film’s “pyramid scheme” scene. The joke is there, but it’s underdeveloped and depends solely on a basic humor layer that, up to this point, is tired and lacks strength.

The plot is simple: Potato lives with his mother in the Soviet Union. Their knowledge of America is through American movies. Potato suspects he’s queer (he finds out during a hilarious scene with Jesus H. himself), but his mother becoming and mail-order bride seems to be the priority. This is how they move to a whole other country with different values. Not to say it isn’t conservative. 

When the film enters resolution territory, it becomes a little bit too aware of its agenda regarding Potato’s sexuality. It’s awkwardly innocent and jarringly violent at times. This doesn’t mean this part of the movie is irrelevant. It isn’t. It’s just delivered in a disorganized fashion that doesn’t do well for Potato’s storyline. His mom’s story and its connection with Potato’s character development is demeaned because of dramatic balance. 

It’s not easy to connect the first act of Potato Dreams of America with the direction it takes during its ending. At least organically, it just doesn’t happen with the script’s fast pace and short scenes. It depends more on the audience’s stance to believe in Potato’s character strength and the relation to his mother overcoming her position as a fearful immigrant and turning into a woman surviving an emotionally abusive relationship. 

However, it’s safe to say that it happens and somehow Potato Dreams of America goes from tragedy to fortune. In a revealing scene, the strong foundations of conservative America tumble down and acceptance is shown unexpectedly. It makes the film even more unrealistic. Nevertheless, it also fills it with heart and that’s the only thing you need with a story like this one. Considering the film’s autobiographical tone, it’s not very important how realistic Potato Dreams of America is or not. It’s hard to believe it happened, but who’s to say depictions can’t be “enhanced” just to make them more fun and appealing.

Potato Dreams of America turns from an immigration story to a “coming out during harsh times” story. Both work differently and under different tones and genres. Writer/director Wes Hurley manages to tell the story with enough confidence to make the film more solid than expected at first. Perhaps, you won’t see the relation between immigration and being closeted, but Hurley shows it’s there with a sweet story and tons of personality. 

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Federico Furzan

Founder of Screentology. Member of the OFCS. RT Certified Critic

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– Armessa Movie News

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