Patch Town Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
Released by Kino Lorber
Directed by Craig Goodwill
Written by Christopher Bond, Trevor Martin, and Craig Goodwill
2014, 85 minutes, Not Rated
Released on June 5th, 2015
Rob Ramsey as Jon
Stephanie Pitsiladis as Mary
Suresh John as Sly
Zoie Palmer as Bethany
Patch Town is a dangerous place for the workers of Patch Industries. Cut off from the outside world, struggling to survive, the Corporation tells them how to live their lives. So when Jon and Mary smuggle a daughter from the cabbage patch into their tiny home to start a family, they know they have to break free for baby Daisy to have a future. But when they set out to find Jon’s mother in the outside world, they find out not even they know who they truly are...and that the Corporation won’t let them go that easily.
Patch Town is a high-concept, invigoratingly complicated movie. Based on the Russian folklore that babies are grown in cabbages rather than brought by the storks Americans make up, it takes the Toy Story idea that toys are real and goes a step further: real babies are turned into dolls for profit. Then, when the child grows up, the corporation sneaks back and steals the dolls to reanimate as line workers churning out more babies. It’s a deliciously dark idea that is disappointingly washed over in a minute voiceover. Instead, the narrative follows Jon (Rob Ramsay) as he searches the woman who bought him as a doll when she was little. He believes finding Bethany again with make him feel like he’s truly found what home and family means. Ramsay plays slightly distant from his wife Mary (Stephanie Pitsiladis) to hone in on his secret desire to find Bethany (Zoie Palmer). Unfortunately, this plotline doesn’t really work. It’s a serious crime to steal a baby off the cabbage line; those caught are brainwashed into automatons and forget who they are and who they love. If Jon and Mary were willing to face that risk to get their daughter their love and devotion to one another is unquestionable. So...how can he not know what family is?
Patch Town is a sweet movie in spite of all the kidnapping, but it does reveal its secrets too soon. If we didn’t know that Mary and Jon were once dolls, Jon’s obsession with finding his mother could lead to his discovery of what Patch Town was doing with living creatures and give them more drive to take down evil Yuri (Julian Richings) and his baby factory. Instead, Ramsay and Pitsiladis randomly break into song to talk about their obvious feelings. Oh yeah, it’s sort of a musical too.
The humor is delightfully Canadian; this movie cannot escape its roots. The performances are capable if not overwhelming. Ramsay is charming in his new-to-the-world mania, but not quite genuine in the more serious moments, even with his incredible Sideshow Bob hair. Pitsiladis comes off stage-y, but she’s known for her stage work rather than film work, and can still be endearing if a bit shallow.
As refreshing as the concept and as genre-stretching as Patch Town is, it just doesn’t work as a movie. However, if the story were adapted into a musical for the stage, we’d be looking at some Tony nominations. Or whatever they do in Canada.