WCBE

Finders Keepers

Sep 29, 2015

Humorous doc on redneck obsessions.

Finders Keepers

Grade: B

Directors: Bryan Carberry, J. Clay Tweel

Cast: Shannon Whisnant,  John Wood

"I've always been famous. It's just now people are finding me." Shannon Whisnat

Bizarre is as bizarre does. Finders Keepers is an authentic good-old boy documentary set in North Carolina about rednecks John Wood and Shannon Whisnat, the former storing his amputated leg in a smoker grille in a storage unit. The latter buys the smoker at auction and wants to keep it to peddle his fame while John wants it back because it is his connection to his dad.

The challenge with the material is for educated audiences not to feel superior to the Crackers on the edge of insanity struggling with their demons, John alcoholism and Shannon fame. Shannon's plight is the more pathetic of the two, an overweight dreamer who pursues reality-show fame as if it were his destiny.

As we watch family members--sisters, mothers, wives-- themselves redneck real, there seems no way out of their unsophistication, yet there is. John laments the furor over the leg--he goes on a Judge show with Shannon to fight legally for possession--and turns his energy to sobriety. Shannon sees he’s the butt of jokes on the reality circuit and while disconsolate seems to be entering a sober phase of his life.

Whether or not the filmmakers manipulate to make the subjects denser than they are is arguable, but they sure have some witty observations:  About John, Shannon says, “He was born with a silver crack pipe in his mouth.” There’s a cinema verite feel to the proceedings, recognition that even these down-home characters have arcs leading to self-awareness. Too many fiction movies don't do that.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com