MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Finders Keepers’ Is Documentary Gold

Finders-Keepers-Doc-Review

Film: Finders Keepers
Starring: Shannon Whisnant, John Wood
Directed by: Bryan Carberry, Clay Tweel

During a storage locker auction in 2007, a man named Shannon Whisnant purchased a smoker with hopes of possibly selling it for a profit in the near future. When he arrived home, he discovered a severed human foot inside the lid, and thus began one of the strangest viral news stories of the last decade.

To recap everything that transpired in the briefest of terms, Whisnant’s discovery soon went viral, and not long after, the man whose foot was inside the grill, John Wood, came looking for his missing limb. Whisnant contested the appendage belonged to him as it was part of the grill he purchased, but Wood argued it was his because it was, at least at one point in time, a literal part of his body. News outlets ate up every word, and the two continued to feud over ownership of the leg for the next several years.

Enter: Finders Keepers. Directed by Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel, this documentary tells not only the story of the infamous ‘foot in grill’ incident, but also the stories of the men involved and the ripple effect caused by their actions. It’s both hilarious and deeply moving in equal measure, and somehow the filmmakers manage to transition from the dramatic highs and lows to far more lighthearted moments as smooth as any storyteller working today. It seems too cliche to say there is ‘more than meets the eye,’ but that is exactly the case with this film.

I walked into Finders Keepers expecting to find the human side of a story that seems too bizarre to be real and that is exactly what was delivered. In a time where every ridiculous news story goes viral, it’s about time someone showcased the actual people behind those crazy stories and the impact the sudden popularity of what is often their worst day has on their existence. Shannon Whisnant and John Wood are real people who lived full lives before an unpaid storage locker brought them together, but now they feel as if they are forever bonded by this one incident and the ensuring media frenzy it caused.

The fact Whisnant and Wood agree the grill tied them together for life is about the only thing these two individuals, as well as their families, can agree on. Whisnant loves the attention that comes from the popularity of the story, but Wood would rather retrieve his leg and move on with his life. Whisnant has a wife and mother who support him, even though they don’t always understand him. Wood is the black sheep of his family, and nearly everyone interviewed has something negative to say about his past actions. Neither man is altogether good, but neither one is necessarily bad either. They’re both searching for something though, and as they each share their story it becomes clear the leg is far more symbolic than either one of them may realize.

It took Carberry and Tweel years to weave together the narrative for Finders Keepers, and in the process they witnessed both Whisnant and Wood undergo immense personal transformations. It’s their ability to capture and convey these changes while still balancing the ever-present grill controversy that makes this film something special. You feel as if you have been given everything you hoped the film would offer, as well as a series of additional stories and anecdotes that are equally compelling and entertaining. You never really know what might come next, and in the world of documentaries that’s a pretty incredible feat to achieve.

Before I begin writing in circles, let me just say Finders Keepers is one of the best documentaries I have seen in my twenty-eight years of life. It’s comical and heartbreaking, both in equal measure, and it explores new ground in the world of viral news coverage that is far more engrossing than you could ever imagine. If Carberry and Tweel never tell another story they can rest easy knowing they perfectly captured the one told in this film, and if there is any kind of cinema God he will make sure it’s enjoyed for years and years to come.

GRADE: A

Written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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