A Movie A Day #105: Patti Rocks (1988, directed by David Burton Morris)

Though Chris Mulkey may be best known for playing ex-con Hank Jennings on Twin Peaks, he is also a well-respected character actor who, since the start of his career in the 1970s, has appeared in over 200 different films and TV shows.  He has played a countless number of government agents and criminals and he was even one of the deputies who tried to track down Sylvester Stallone in First Blood.

But Mulkey’s best performance might be in a film that he co-wrote, Patti Rocks.

In Patti Rocks, Mulkey plays Billy Regis, a blue collar worker who spends his days ferrying people across the Mississippi river and his nights bragging about his success with women.  One night, he tracks down his old friend, Eddie (John Jenkins).  He tells Eddie that he has gotten his girlfriend, Patti Rocks, pregnant.  What Patti does not know is that Billy is already married and has two children.  Billy wants Eddie to drive with him to Wisconsin so he call tell Patti the truth.  Depressed over his recent divorce, Eddie agrees.

It is an all night drive, during which Billy and Eddie talk about their own lost dreams, work, and especially sex.  Billy claims to be a womanizer but even he secretly seems to understand how empty his boasts are.  When they meet a woman who is just as outspoken as Billy is, Billy gets quiet.  When they finally reach Patti’s apartment, Patti (Karen Landry) turns out to not be who Eddie was expecting.

Patti Rocks tells a simple, episodic story about two immature men in the throes of a mid-life crisis.  Not much happens but the dialogue rings true and everyone watching Patti Rocks will recognize Billy and Eddie as someone that they know and maybe even see some of themselves in the characters.

Chris Mulkey and John Jenkins first played the characters of Billy and Eddie in the 1976 independent feature, Loose Ends.  Though it never received a wide theatrical release, Loose Ends started Mulkey’s career as a busy character actor.

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