RAUNCHY but unswervingly honest, "Patti Rocks" is guilty pleasure, a four-wheel drive down the worn road of male-female relationships. And riding together are three passengers: the misogynist, the independent woman and the disillusioned nice guy, all headed for a series of crunching gender-benders.
The misogynist is Billy Regis (Chris Mulkey), whose blue collar really ought to be made of leather, with a leash attached. To him, women are bipedal sexual objects. The nicest thing he calls them is "chopped steak." Anyway, Billy's got a problem with Independent Patti (Karen Landry): She's pregnant, and she wants to have the baby. Billy don't. But she won't even discuss it on the phone. Billy wants to talk her out of it. And maybe now's the time, he figures, to tell her he's married with two kids. Too spineless to face her alone, he begs former work buddy Eddie Hassit (John Jenkins) to tag along.
This buddy reunion actually goes back to the 1975 movie "Loose Ends," when Billy and Eddie (same actors, same director) worked side-by-side in a Minnesota auto shop. Between then and now, Billy has married and Eddie, promoted to supervisor, has gotten divorced.
Billy and Eddie take a loooong drive, out of St. Paul, to Patti's place. They get there, they confront her (or she confronts them) and they drive back, changed. That's it for structure. "Patti Rocks" is essentially a '60s road movie, where you're headed down that ol' blacktop to Self-Discovery. But what interests the filmmakers (writing credit is given to director David Burton Morris and the three actors) is the method-acting bickering among characters: Billy and Eddie do locker room and old times in the car; Billy meets his match with a tough-talking woman who tells him to put his machismo where his mouth is; Billy tangles with Patti in the shower; and, finally, Eddie and Patti get to know each other fast and amorous.
"Patti Rocks" retains an admirable unblinking quality: We meet people warts and all -- although even Billy has a certain charm in his blockheaded boyishness. The film's also distinctive for its regional, independent look. It was shot (for $300,000) in Minnesota in wintertime. Cinematographer (and editor) Gregory Cummins' camera follows the characters (none of them household names) in dark and grainy documentary style -- unobtrusively hanging out with them as they mope, smoke, shoot the you-know, or make fools of themselves. It reminds you of real people. PATTI ROCKS (R) -- At the Dupont Circle.