Finders Keepers review sundance

On Friday I screened the first great film of the 2015 Sundance film festival. Finders Keepers is a hilarious, bizarre and sometimes devastating documentary about the true life story of two men. Shannon Whisnant purchases a storage unit at auction and is surprised to find a severed human leg inside a used bbq grill. The other man, John Wood, wants his leg back, but Whisnant isn’t about to let that happen.

Read the rest of my Finders Keepers review and see a clip from the film, embedded after the jump.

Finders Keepers Clip

Finders Keepers Review From Sundance 2015

The story offers much more depth than its “pulled from the headlines”  story might lead you to expect. In fact, it’s less about the sensationalistic hook and more about the compelling characters involved in this crazy story.  I love documentary films like King of Kong and Trekkies that let us explore the world of quirky “weirdos”. With Finders Keepers, producers Seth Gordin (King of Kong) and Adam Goldberg (The Goldbergs) give us a fascinating slice of moldy Americana.

I name drop Storage Wars in the review headline because yes, the grill was bought in a storage unit auction like the auctions seen in the reality television show. But also because like the show, its not just about the crazy pirate treasure uncovered in a purchased unit, its about the strange and interesting characters going on the treasure hunt — the Jarrod, Brandi, Darrell and Dave Hesters.

For Whisnant the leg represents his hopes and dreams of someday being famous — for what it really doesn’t matter. He believes he bought the leg fair and square and is unwilling to let his 15 minutes of fame ed. For Wood, the leg represents the unwillingness to let go of blame for the plane crash that killed his father and resulted in the amputation of his leg.

And both men are surrounded by a set of characters that will have you laughing in disbelief. One person I talked to after the screening was convinced for the first half of the movie that it was a narrative fictional feature film — but honestly, this story and characters are too strange to be fiction.

Most of this story is filmed after the fact, with the key characters recounting the events. But the characters in the spotlight of this documentary are so incredibly odd and funny that it doesn’t suffer from the problems of most talking head docs. Also it helps that the documentary collects a ton of news footage surrounding the bizarre situation. We get slices from national television news programs, reality shows, and a hero that may come from the most unexpected place — a television court show.

The documentary filmmakers do end up following the conclusion of the story in real time, which offers some needed closure and redemption, adding insightful yet unexpected perspective on the whole situation. As much as I loved the film, this documentary still feels a bit long — which is unfortunate as the running time is already a short 82 minutes. I do think it could benefit from a ten minute trim of the later half.

/Film Rating: 8 out of 10

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