First of all, do not watch this movie with your family! Its poster may look like an innocent Christmas movie-of-the-week, but the film’s plot moves in some very interesting directions.
Pottersville (2017), directed by Seth Henrikson, is a feel-good holiday comedy about Maynard (Michael Shannon), a hapless general store owner, and his devotion to the small New England town of Pottersville. Unfortunately, his wife Connie (Christina Hendricks) is not at all devoted to him, as Maynard discovers early on in the film that Connie is having an extramarital affair with Sheriff Jack, who will henceforth be known as Ron Perlman.
It is revealed that Connie and Ron Perlman are furries — Maynard walks in on the two, dressed in fursuits, performing some sort of pseudo-sexual act.
Maynard, in confusion and desperation, returns to his general store and is consoled by his assistant Parker (Judy Greer). He consumes a large amount of moonshine given to him by his friend Bart (Ian McShane) and for some reason, decides to use a spare gorilla costume he has in his store as a makeshift fursuit and drunkenly stumbles around the town at night, being mistaken by the plucky citizens of Pottersville for Bigfoot. This brings the attention of news stations, cryptid TV shows and tourists, and Maynard learns the true meaning of Christmas or something.
The plot, of course, has no possible analysis other than seeing it as the product of a twisted mind — screenwriter Daniel Meyer’s, to be exact.
I watched this movie over Discord with a group of friends, and each of us desperately tried to come up with rational motives for the characters and three-act-structure plot points, but our efforts were in vain.
While Maynard has plenty of screen time, the real protagonist of the movie is the city of Pottersville. Unfortunately, Pottersville is a town of zero personality.
If you focus too much on the incoherent story, you’d miss the visible film crew, the Kevin McLeod-esque score by Brando Triantafillou, Bart’s World War II-era Luger that he has in the woods for some reason, and the horrible forest sets, complete with JPEG artifacts.
It was noted in the screening that Ron Perlman looks like an extruded Will Ferrell. The acting was of low quality, even Ron Perlman’s.
Another issue I had with this cozy holiday movie was the rampant sexual themes. Connie’s only traits are that she is a furry and that she constantly wants to have sex with nearby people, enfursuited or not. Writing ‘strong women characters’ was clearly not on Daniel Meyer’s to-do list. At one point in the movie, a Pottersville resident declares that he’s “not gonna let [his] ass get eaten by a Bigfoot.” I swear to Ron Perlman that the line actually occurs in the film.
It is unclear if the references to the furry fandom are meant to be comedic or serious. There is nothing explicitly mean-spirited towards its members in the film, but I do not know how much input the filmmakers received from the Furry community in the development of the script. I was, however, moved to tears by Ron Perlman’s emotional coming out scene.
The climax of the movie was an impassioned monologue that Parker gave to the town’s residents in defence of Maynard, which was so touching I promptly forgot about it once the next scene started.
There was some blatant product placement near the end of the movie when a close up of Ron Perlman drinking some root beer appeared on the screen. It was a clear message from the filmmakers: if you drink this brand of root beer, you will be as cool as Ron Perlman.
My biggest complaint about this whimsical holiday motion picture is the fact that it seems to have nothing at all to do with the holidays. Aside from a Christmas tree shoved into a corner of Maynard’s general store and a few season-appropriate songs in the background, there were no references to any winter holidays. This makes the movie’s poster, bedight with Christmas decorations and Santa hats, an example of false advertising.
There were more references to human–cryptid sexual relations in the movie than there are to one of the holiest days in the Christian faith.
All in all, this movie was an enthralling, genuine look at human sexuality and the socioeconomic decline of the American rust belt. I give it a 2 out of 10.