Tater Tot & Patton (2019)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on April 22, 2019 @ tonymacklin.net.

Tater Tot & Patton is small potatoes.

That is both its strength and its weakness.

Tater Tot & Patton is a niche, indie film.

It tells the sometimes engaging tale of an odd couple. Andie (Jessica Rothe), a young blonde woman from California, avoids rehab by going to live with her uncle Erwin (Bates Wilder), who is a loner overseeing a cattle ranch in South Dakota. He is not avuncular.

This odd couple is of two generations and two different cultures. At first, of course, they are very incompatible. Erwin tells her about life where he lives, "You eat, you sleep, you piss. You drive the line."

Much of the film is eating, sleeping, pissing (three urination scenes), and driving the line. Also drinking -- a lot of drinking.

That life and its tragedies have turned Erwin into an unkempt mess, but he still has a code of responsibility for the ranch.

Andie is "smart but dumb." She can speak French, but can"t make a grilled cheese sandwich. She now finds herself in a world without Wi-Fi or air conditioning. But as time passes she gains competence on chores on the ranch.

Both she and Erwin evolve as they affect each other. It"s an erratic transformation, but has lasting effect.

Jessica Rothe and Bates Wilder are capable actors. And the direction and screenplay by Andrew Kightlinger have some convincing moments.

Tater Tot & Patton is scrambled. It"s part dirge, part romp, part anger, part angst. It depends on how you like your order fixed.

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