Red Rocket (2021, Sean Baker)

Washed up porn star Mikey returns home defeated to his estranged wife Lexi and hangs at her mom Lil’s house in Texas while going on “job interviews.” He ends up selling weed for family friend Judy Hill (World’s on Fire), befriending next door neighbor Lonnie for his car and hanging at a donut shop to sell drugs to customers. Then he hits on the idea of getting the donut shop girl into the porn business – “she’s my way back in.”

The whole thing sounds dour and desperate, but as noted in the reviews, Mikey (Simon Rex of Bodied) is a real treat to watch, a gloriously charismatic car wreck who eventually helps cause an actual car wreck – Lonnie going to jail for fleeing a 22-car pileup was an unexpected twist. Mikey’s plan almost works, but in the end he’s robbed and kicked out of town, for the greater good.

Baker drops a key to Mikey’s character in an InsideHook interview, having spoken with suitcase pimps with “a toxic effect on other people that they cross paths with … We’d heard a lot of stories from these guys, and they always felt like they were being sabotaged.”

Lonnie:

Baker in Filmmaker:

Right now in the US, we’re leaning towards virtue-signaling way too much. There’s a place for that in mainstream cinema. Like, if you’re making an Avengers film, hitting all the checkmarks and making it as diverse and inclusionary as possible, that’s important because that’s mainstream popcorn-cinema meant for children. That’s different. This is made for adults.

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