Potato Dreams Of America follows a young kid and his mother as they move from Russia to the United States to start a safe and happier life. With all of the transformations happening around them, the comedy and chaos mix together perfectly for a sweet and funny true story. The 1080p HD video image and the DTS-HD 5.1 audio track are both great and the wealth of extras is outstanding. Recommended!
Filmmaker Wes Hurley has finally brought his biographical story to a feature film adaptation after two short films gave a glimpse at his young life growing up in Mother Russia. This new film titled Potato Dreams Of America is a super-sweet, darkly funny visual treat that takes many forms of transformation throughout its runtime. With great performances and a look that resembles Wes Anderson, Potato Dreams Of America is the sleeper hit that everybody should see.
Wes Hurley was originally born Vasili Naumenko in Vladivostok but moved to America and eventually ended up in Seattle. Potato Dreams Of America is his origin story that is told in two acts. Much like the huge differences between Russia and America, Hurley used these striking differences as his visual style for the film as the first half of the film plays out like a stage play with flat sets that look a lot like a budget version of a Wes Anderson room. Once the action picks up in America, the visual goes to a normal Hollywood production that might be over-emphasized for comedic effect. That's not the only transformation here though.
Potato Dreams Of America follows a young kid named Vasili and his single mother named Lena in Russia where she yearns for a better life for herself and her son. With all of the chaos with the Russian government, Vasili makes an imaginary friend in Jesus who tells him to make a happy life that resembles the great endings of American movies, specifically those '80s action films. Vasili and his mother get their wish as they move to the United States through the mail-order bride program where Vasili goes into culture shock and awe. Not only that though, Vasili realizes he is gay and must navigate American society and growing up with his new, proud self.
The film plays out like a sitcom on so many levels with cute jokes, setups and punchlines, and a sweet tenderness to it all. But of course, living in Russia along with immigrating to America under such circumstances will create havoc and chaos which is where Hurley allows for the darker sides to show up. The actors all turn in fantastic performances that ooze charm, wit, and charisma on every level. Wes Hurley has a unique style and an exquisite way of telling his story, and it will be great to see what he comes up with next down the road. Potato Dreams Of America is one of those films that nobody really knows about, but should immediately see. This might be one of the ultimate mother-son duos in cinema.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Potato Dreams Of America immigrates to Blu-ray via Darkstar Pictures. The disc is housed inside a hard, clear plastic case. There is no cardboard sleeve. The artwork features a great illustration of the characters in the film with the American flag. The reversible cover art is the actual movie poster that consists of the actors from the film. There is an insert of a postcard with a drawing of Jesus. On the back of that is a written essay about the movie.
Potato Dreams Of America comes with a great-looking 1080p HD transfer from Dark Star Pictures. This indie film has a great visual style that pops. A ton of primary colors, neons, and pastels are used throughout the movie for its different visual styles and unique tones. Whether it be inside a school, on an inexpensive set, or out in the wild, the color palette is dynamic.
Black levels are inky without much bleeding or murkiness and the skin tones are always natural. The detail is sharp and vivid with close-ups revealing individual hairs, stubble, makeup, and textures in the fabulous wardrobe. There are some mild elements of banding and noise, but that's due to some of the source material. Still a striking video presentation.
This release comes with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix that does its job well for being a dialogue-driven movie. Sound effects of normal household items, school lockers, and other city noises all sound great. They aren't over-the-top loud like they would be in an action film, but they are well-balanced and have some heft to them in certain emotional moments.
The bass has a nice smooth rumble to it as well. Surround ambient noises always come through nicely and the dialogue is clean clear and easy to follow, even with the non-Russian accents, which is funny. The score and music always add to the comedy and emotional tone of the film as well.
There is 230 minutes worth of bonus material on this disc. This includes interviews with the cast and crew, behind the scenes, short films, a web series, and more. There is even a great audio commentary as well.
Potato Dreams Of America is a super sweet, entertaining, and darkly funny film about family, transformation, and achieving the American Dream. The visual style and its performances are all stand-out points of this indie film, one that showcases the excellent talent of its subject and director Wes Hurley. The HD video and its DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix are both good, and the bonus features are simply amazing. Recommended!