Patch Town (2014): Quasi Musical Fantasy Fun

Zoie Palmer, Julian Richings, Ken Hall
Directed by Craig Goodwill (his first feature length film) and starring Zoie Palmer (Dark Matter, Lost Girl), Julian Richings (Cube, Man of Steel), Rob Ramsay (The Thundermans, Blue Mountain State), Suresh John (Bulletproof Monk, Shoot ‘Em Up) and Ken Hall (A Christmas Horror Story, Mistletoe Over Manhattan) Patch Town is a Canadian production that follows a sort of Grimm’s fairy tale version of cabbage patch dolls and their lives outside the garden where they were born.

Julian Richings plays the dual role of the man who discovers the cabbage’s secret and later  he is Yuri, the child catcher. The film tells of how each baby borne of the cabbage was frozen, in  special machine created by Yuri’s father. This invention turned the babies into dolls who were then adopted by loving little girls the world over. As the dolls became neglected, aka outgrown, Yuri collected the dolls and reanimated them into people.

Their memories were wiped so they could not remember their prior lives as dolls. The process, however, is not perfect and a few can recall their mothers. Jon (Ramsay) is one who remembers his mother, Bethany (Palmer) very well. Jon works in the cabbage patch baby factory where each day cabbages containing babies are opened up and the tiny infants removed.

The contents of the vegetables are  guarded closely and anyone caught stealing a baby from the factory are jailed and re-educated.  Jon escapes with his wife Mary (Stephanie Pitsiladis) and their stolen baby Daisy. He is aided by Sly, (John) who tries to help him fit into the real world. 

Meanwhile, Yuri is lonely and wants a bride and he choses Bethany, Jon’s former mother who has a new child, Avery (Kayla DiVenere) who Yuri want to freeze and make into a doll. 

This quasi-musical is a lot of fun to watch and full of quirky humor. Suresh John, who could be the re-incarnation of funnyman Jerry Colonna is truly hysterical in this film. John’s comic timing and delivery are exquisite and the delivery of his lines as Sly are side splitting.

Take, for example, his explanation of Santa Claus and elves to Jon.

Jon: ” Who am I supposed to be?”

Sly: “You are some benefactor named Santa Claus.”

Jon: “And who are you supposed to be?”

Sly: “I am some freakish mutation that works in a factory making toys for greedy undeserving children.”

Suresh is even good at setting up jokes for his fellow performers to serve up as punch line. Sly warns Jon not to talk to the police, whom he refers to as the fuzz, the po po and 5-Oh. Jon later retranslates this into “I’m not supposed to talk to the fuzzy Po Po.”

Ken Hall, as Kenny, is almost as funny as Suresh. This man’s manic expression while rambling about kidnapping gloves, standing by the side of the road with beet juice on his face, or stumbling over his words explaining why he kidnapped the girl and not Bethany are show stoppers.

The only complain about this film is that there could be more Zoie Palmer. As Bethany she does not have too much screen time. (Another complaint would be that her character’s lines are a tad confusing. She tries to force Jon to help her find her daughter and when he agrees to help, she immediately asks him why.  Confusing.)

The plot could be seen as a homage to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with it’s child catcher, certainly  Richings’ character resembles  Robert Helpmann’s child catcher although he is a lot more verbal than the sinister villain in that 1968 musical.  While the character of the child catching Yuri may be a homage to the film of the flying, and magical car, it is apparent that the whole storyline of cabbage patch babies is connected to those hideous dolls from the 1980s.

Or…the film really is a sort of musical Grimm’s fairy tale about babies found in cabbages. Either way, the movie is quirky fun with an unlikely hero and the brilliantly comic Suresh John as equally unlikely sidekick.

At 85 minutes the film is not overly long and the pacing is brisk, although it does drag in places. Streaming on US Netflix, Patch Town is great fun and while the songs are not catchy enough to stick in your head, they do, at least, help the story along.

This is a 4 out of 5 stars for originality, and it loses a star for not enough Zoie Palmer, but earns 4 just for Ken Hall and Suresh John who steal this film from Richings and Ramsay as deftly as if he were the child catcher himself.