Potato (Hersh Powers) is a little Soviet-era boy in love with American movies. He enjoys these films so much that, when his mother Lena (Sera Barbieri) is being beaten by one of her boyfriends, he forms his hands into a viewfinder and watches the incident unfold as if it was on the big screen. An odd boy, Potato accepts his mother’s current, abusive boyfriend because he has a color television…much nicer then their old black and white model. Still, he has very few friends. Unless, that is, you count Jesus Christ (Jonathan Bennett), who drops by often. It is a very oppressive society that portrays anything different as evil. Among the presumed evils – homosexuality. Potato is taught that everyone in the West is a homosexual. Except Freddie Mercury, who is much too talented. Wanting to be free of the chains of their country, Potato and his mother are overjoyed when she is chosen by a man in America as a mail order bride. Soon things will be different in the glorious USA. Right?
An unusual film, based on the life of writer/director Hurley (who was born in Russia), “Potato Dreams of America” is almost two different films. Where the Russian act is very bleak visually, it is filled with some great humor. Yet when the setting moves to America, things begin to get quite serious. It’s also unusual in that the main characters are portrayed by different actors during the second act. Potato is now played by Tyler Bocock while Lena is now portrayed by Marya Sea Kaminski. All four actors embrace their characters, as does Dan Lauria, the American husband with secrets of his own.
Hurley’s script is quite funny, especially in the first act, where Potato and Lena do their best to tolerate those who are intolerable among them. And while the film is not rated, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the second act deals with some very adult subject matter, so be advised. That being said, “Potato Dreams of America” is a charming film that deserves an audience.