By: Addison Wylie
We’ve all seen some variation of “crazy” in supermarket tabloids and on afternoon television programming, but Finders Keepers looks past what some would define as “too wild to be true” and finds the humanity behind the headlines.
That’s not to say the story this documentary follows isn’t wacky – it absolutely is. In what could only be described as fate, John Wood and Shannon Whisnant were brought together after Whisnant found Wood’s amputated left leg in a storage locker he had won in an auction. The limb – mummified with toe nails in tact – was laying on its side in Wood’s grill, and Shannon – an “entrepreneur” looking for the limelight – was shocked and gleeful. However, after catching wind of Shannon’s roadside attraction involving the found foot, John reached out to the wily businessman hoping to strike a deal.
The small town folk in Maiden, North Carolina mixed with the stupefied reactions of those involved make it easy for documentarians Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel to find humour in this oddball situation. The directorial duo also gain assistance from some talented individuals who serve as producers (The King of Kong’s Seth Gordon, Napoleon Dynamite’s Jared Hess, The Goldberg’s creator Adam F. Goldberg). The awkward yet endearing portrayals of backwoods culture has Hess and Gordon’s fingerprints all over it. However, what Carberry and Tweel deserve the most praise on is the film’s flawless ability to bounce back-and-forth between hubris of the absurd and genuine sentimentality.
The story behind how John lost his leg reveals hefty significance on his relationship to his father as well as his pain when reflecting on accidents, regrets, and addictions. Shannon, on the other hand, sees a claim to fame. That said, his thoughts are also triggered by sensitive subjects which ties in to childhood jealousy he feels towards John. Finders Keepers is a twisted chess game between two people who – oddly enough – share similar emotions despite being enemies.
The legal action that follows sends Finders Keepers in unpredictable directions that keep the audience hanging on. We also can’t stop thinking about the moralities behind such a debate. Does John get to keep his foot because it’s his, or is Shannon the rightful owner because he legally purchased the locker’s contents? Finders Keepers is a long and funny ride through unfathomable ethics that’s strangely identifiable.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie