Review: ‘Elvis in East Peoria’

Strange truth once again trumps fiction as the protagonists of "Elvis in East Peoria" mix domestic weirdness with long-odds pursuit of showbiz fame.

Strange truth once again trumps fiction as the protagonists of “Elvis in East Peoria” mix domestic weirdness with long-odds pursuit of showbiz fame. Charting a Midwestern small-town housewife’s obsessive quest to “break” the local Elvis impersonator she’s “discovered,” docu is chockfull of colorful characters and human comedy. Feature by Eric Burdett (who previously helmed 1997 indie narrative comedy “Delivery”) has a shot at breaking out of the fest circuit to niche theatrical and smallscreen exposure.

Donna Didesch, a busty, middle-aged bottle blonde, rather loses her head over the alleged career prospects of Jim Potter, a three-time divorcee and aspiring “tribute artist.” “He just oozes Elvis,” she says. “Older, fat Elvis,” husband Jerry deadpans. She pours savings into drastically underattended stage extravaganzas, and when Potter loses his job over a DUI, he moves in — straining the Didesches’ marriage. Then there’s Donna’s strangely competitive relationship with daughter Lisa, a caustic observer Potter admits he’s attracted to. Donna’s over-the-top behavior does seem egged on by the camera’s presence, but the dynamics among the figures (including Burdett himself) keep pic entertaining. Tech aspects are decent.

Elvis in East Peoria

Production

A Burdett Entertainment production. Produced by Jennifer Burdett, Eric Burdett. Directed, edited by Eric Burdett.

Crew

Camera (color, DigiBeta). Reviewed at San Francisco Documentary Festival, Oct. 27, 2008. Running time: 84 MIN.

With

Donna Didesch, Jimmy Potter, Lisa Adams, Jerry Didesch, Steve Bobbitt.

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