26 September, 2015

"Finders Keepers" Review (****½)

John Wood loses his leg twice in "Finders Keepers."

"Finders Keepers" is easily the most unbelievable documentary I’ve seen in years. The premise alone is enough to make you laugh and think, 'there’s no way that happened.' But it did. And not only did it happen —it happened mostly on camera (thank goodness). I swear my jaw dropped at least five times.

The film follows two men who get wrapped up in a legal battle over the possession of one of the men’s legs. It all starts when Shannon Whisnant, a local resident of Maiden, North Carolina, buys an abandoned storage unit filled with someone else’s junk. Whisnant opens up an old, rusted smoker that was sitting in the back of the unit and finds a human leg—skin and all. Intertwined with this half of the story, we also learn about John Wood—a kind-hearted man whose addictions and financial struggles forced him to stop making payments on his storage unit in which he was storing his amputated leg.

Whisnant, who might as well have dollar signs instead of eyeballs, quickly and aggressively attempts to make a quick buck off of the situation. Meanwhile, Wood attempts to get his leg back. Both men are fun to watch and while both present at least somewhat-reasonable arguments for why they deserve the leg, you can’t help but root for John Wood. This is due to his surprisingly moving back-story, in which it’s revealed exactly how John lost his leg and the extent to which it has affected him and his family.

The documentary works on every level. It's chock-full of laugh out loud moments and quotable lines. Whisnant and Wood are total opposites, which makes their hysterical back-and-forth so fun to watch. The human drama keeps it from ever seeming like just a surface-level freak show. Directors Clay Tweel and Bryan Carberry have crafted a really memorable and special film. It’s actually really difficult to find any flaws in the doc at all (other than the fact that I wanted to see more).

"Finders Keepers" is one of the best films of the year—and I’m not just pulling your leg. (Sorry, had to.)

4.5 out of 5 stars.

"Finders Keepers" played the 2015 Sidewalk Film Festival, among others, and opens at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta on October 2nd.

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