September 25, 2020  (Web Review)

Red, White and Wasted

89 minutes, not rated, 2019.

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

It would be nice to report that this 2019 verite documentary by Sam Jones and Andrei Bowden Schwartz overturns popular stereotypes of Florida “redneck” white-trash culture. Alas…pretty much all the negatives are here, with the possible exception of Billy Bob Teeth triggered by massive Mountain Dew consumption. Focus is on Orlando-area inhabitant Matthew `Video Pat’ Burns, a fortunately likable sort (he may remind viewers of actor William Sanderson) who affirms he’s no drug casualty like his brothers. In fact, as Video Pat, Burns enjoyed minor celebrity as an indie cameraman/chronicler of “mudder” events in the central-Florida swamps—trucks and SUVs going off-road, wheels spinning in the muck before patriotic, cheering crowds of lower-class masses. They are all enthusiastic right-wing Trump voters, Putin admirers and gun fanciers, waving Confederate flags and the occasional Nazi swastika. Video Pat, when not rag-picking discarded scrap metal from Disney construction projects, has his hands full with feeding his pet snake and caring for two daughters left behind after his wife of 19 years split. Over the years the broken household splinters further when one high-school dropout daughter gets pregnant by an abusive boyfriend; another moves in with a much older black man with several baby mamas already. And Video Pat’s cherished swamp catches fire and is soon declared off-limits, declared a site for future hotel/corporate and poured-concrete superhighway development likely to leave these poorly educated yahoos behind. Better organized mudder festivals elsewhere in the state give Matt Burns, now a grandpa, a wistful last hurrah in a Florid-apocalypse of roaring engines, splattered mud, alcohol, shouts of “White power!” and topless girls flashing and twerking. Still, he ponders whether there might be a better existence, somehow. While partially successful at humanizing a sub-group, the feature still goes a way to showing how the term “Florida Man” has become its own punchline and police-report headline. An optional purchase, maybe worthy of sharing shelf space with Errol Morris’ less politcally loaded Vernon, Florida. (Aud: C, P)