Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Craigslist Joe (2012)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

My mother told me about Craigslist Joe.  It sounded like a movie that I wouldn’t mind missing, but she thought I would enjoy watching it.  The movie is a documentary about a guy named Joseph Garner.  He sets out one December to see if he can live for an entire month using Craigslist to find everything he needs, including food and lodging.  He even finds the project’s cameraman through Craigslist.  He brings no credit cards or cash and has just the clothes on his back and a laptop.

It’s difficult for him at first.  The first day, it took him almost the entire day to get food and shelter.  Things get a little easier for him.  Once he gets the hang of it, he’s usually able to find lodging.  (He only has to go one night without a bed to sleep on.)  Food ranged from a bag of fruit to home-cooked meals.  He also makes it from the West Coast to the East Coast and back with some effort.

I have to give the guy credit for trying something new.  He wasn’t out to prove anything.  He just wanted to see how kind strangers would be.  Here’s the thing, though.  The cameraman and his equipment are able to fit into a car, but people have to know their being filmed.  I have to wonder how many people offered help knowing they’d be in the movie.  (For that matter, how much are we missing because someone refused permission?)

When posting requests for help or looking for listings, Joe doesn’t seem to mention the cameraman, but it does have to be dealt with at some point.  You don’t see any overtly mean people, which may have to do with mean people not giving permission to be seen on film.  (The worst case is a couple of women that at first refuse lodging, but eventually come back to allow Joe and cameraman to spend the night.)

There’s also a staged feel to it.  There was one scene where they were having trouble getting a car started.  The cameraman stayed out to film the car going away, meaning they had to stop to let him back in.  I also noticed that on IMDb, there are several people that were in other movies.  (One woman had a bit part in Home Alone 2.)  I do think it would have been different if it were done as a hidden-camera type of documentary, although I understand why that couldn’t be done.  There would be too many other issues.

The movie was occasionally entertaining, but the for bulk of the movie, I felt like getting up and walking out.  I think if I had been watching it alone, I would have.  For this reason, I don’t recommend it.  Even at 90 minutes, it seemed way too long.  It came off as a long commercial for all of the wonderful things you can do with Craigslist with few apparent negative aspects.  How easy would it have been to take advantage of the guy? 

IMDb page

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