(director/writer:  Sean Baker; screenwriter: Chris Bergoch; cinematographer: Drew Danirls; editor: Sean Baker; music: ; cast:  Simon Rex (Mikey Saber), Bree Elrod (Lexi), Judy Hill ( Leondria), Ethan Darbone (Lonnie), Suzanna Son (Raylee, Strawberry), Brenda Deiss (Lil), Shih-Ching Tsou (Mrs. Phan), Marlon Lambert (Ernesto); Runtime: 128; MPAA Rating: R; producers; Sean Baker, Alex Coco, Samantha Quan, Alex Saks, Shih-Ching Tsou: A24; 2021)

“It’s hard not to feel a little something for the older exploiter who is treated humanely here in a nonjudgmental way.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Sean Baker (“The Florida Project”/”Tangerine”) is the writer-director of the quirky low-budget comedy, that’s co-written by Chris Bergoch. The title is slang for a dog’s erection.

The film is set in the presidential election year of 2016. The fast-talking washed-up porn star Mikey Saber (Simon Rex, actor, rapper, comedian and one-time porn performer), a born hustler, leaves the porn hipster movie business scene in Los Angeles after twenty years to return down-and-out to his sleepy hometown of Texas City, Texas. The nervy dude upsets his abandoned wife Lexi (Bree Elrod) by asking if he can crash in her place until he gets settled, but she relents and they have sex.

When trying to get a legit job in a fast-food place fails, he sells weed on the street and tells everyone he had a great porn career in Hollywood (lying his ass off like Trump does).

At the local doughnut shop Mikey falls for the 17-year-old cashier Strawberry (Suzanna Son), convincing himself she’s born to be a porn star and is his ticket back to the triple-X big time.

The parents of Strawberry’s ex-boyfriend take a strong dislike to Mikey and viciously rough him up. But Mikey and Strawberry nevertheless head for the bright lights of LA, and whether or not they make it there is anyone’s guess.

Though it’s a tale of sexual exploitation by someone who is no angel, in fact he’s a loser and user of people, but it’s hard not to feel a little something for the older exploiter who is treated humanely here in a nonjudgmental way and comes off as someone who is better than a lot of respectable folks.

Sean Baker's Red Rocket
      returns to smalltown America once again


REVIEWED ON 8/7/2021  GRADE: A –