Review by C.J. Bunce
Three years ago at borg we previewed a quirky holiday film on its way to theaters called Pottersville. It’s now on Netflix and one you might come across while looking for your next Christmas movie. Universally panned by critics, it still has some charm and is a step up from the average Hallmark made-for-TV holiday flick. It’s a quiet and evenly paced film highlighted by the performances of Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water, Midnight Special and Man of Steel) and Judy Greer (Ant-Man, Halloween, Jurassic World). And it’s about Bigfoot. But it’s not quite a “family film.”
Shannon plays Maynard, owner of the perfect, idyllic general store in the nearly perfect Christmas village town. If it snows, he shovels the entire walk for the neighboring businesses, and when a patron doesn’t have enough money for food, he lets them run a tab. On one snowy day he decides to go home early and encounters his wife in a full rabbit outfit frolicking with a man in a full furry wolf outfit. His wife is played by Christina Hendricks (Firefly, Mad Men, Life). She shares the show’s villain status with Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Star Trek: Nemesis), the local sheriff, Maynard’s friend, and the guy in the wolf suit. The shock and confusion for this odd flavor of cheating by his wife prompts Maynard, who doesn’t drink, to get drunk. He then dons an ape suit in Halloween storage and the next morning learns his tirade about town led everyone to believe Bigfoot has arrived.
The Bigfoot sighting brings to town the supposed Australian star of a supernatural reality TV show, played by Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!, Supergirl, Archer). Sometimes the humor is funny, sometimes just plain dumb. But it’s all light-hearted fare. The best of the humor arrives in the form of Ian McShane (John Wick, Hellboy, Deadwood) as Bart, a local crotchety hunter who plays out a nice spin on Robert Shaw’s Quint from Jaws–probably the best bit of the movie. With Bart the hunt for Bigfoot is on.
Greer works in Maynard’s store, and from the beginning there’s the barest glimmer that there’s something more to her fondness for Maynard as a boss–but not much. Shannon’s George Bailey-esque friendly, put-upon businessman is believably good and Greer as the friend to help him get out of the hoax he caused is also rightly cast for an easy-going Christmas movie. Shannon doesn’t walk away from the role of Bigfoot, but instead repeats it, which is an unexpected twist to an otherwise familiar holiday plot–all but the adults getting into trouble in furry suits. Luckily there’s no overt sex going on here, just mild innuendo.
It’s neither Bedford Falls nor the Pottersville of It’s a Wonderful Life, but expect ample holiday cheer and a unique blend of kooky characters and winter spirit you’d usually find in the latest holiday TV effort, populated with some good actors.
It’s not too horrible a way to spend an hour and a half for the holidays after a year of real-life weird. Pottersville is now streaming on Netflix.