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Bob Doto [Celluloid 09.24.10] thriller documentary

Year: 2010
Directors: Henry Joost/Ariel Schulman
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Bob Doto
Rating: 6 out of 10

Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s CATFISH is a “documentary” film that follows a facebook romance between the bring-him-home-to-meet-your-mother Nev Schulman and his mysterious yet-to-be-met beaut of a beloved “Megan.” Of course, things aren’t what they seem, so when Nev’s filmy buddies decide to capture the budding courtship, a world of deception erupts onscreen. What luck for the filmmakers, right?! Not to be a curmudgeon, but I can’t help feeling like, despite the big “Ah ha” moment, CATFISH will ultimately end up just another clever experiment made possible only with the ubiquity of affordable digital cameras and a budget.

So, let’s get it out of the way. When you’re dealing with a twist, you’re dealing with a pay off. I didn’t make the rules. I don’t want to relate to your film as a commodity, but that’s what twists are all about. If it’s good, we like it. MAYBE we’ll watch again someday. Probably not. If we don’t buy the twist, however, well, such is life, I suppose. Now, CATFISH is a film based entirely on its twist, which is what gives most reviewers pause when composing their riffs. “How do you possibly review CATFISH without giving away that one thing the film relies entirely on?!?!?!” My question is: why do you care? CATFISH ain’t that great. It’s not a game changer. It’s a commodity film, where once you see it, there’s really no need to see it again. It’s about as confrontational as wheat pasted black and white “street art.” We get it already! You went to school. So did I.

Speaking of street art, the second biggest concern to the reviewers of CATFISH is whether or not the film is actually “real,” or like Banksy’s EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP have we been taken on a well-executed situationist romp? Well, the boys behind CATFISH are no Banksy, and perhaps it’s the fact that I’m bummed by this early Fall heat wave in NYC, but I’m kind of over this whole “is it real” thing. The fact is, if the film actually happened as Joost and Schulman suggest, then what we have is a decent enough Blair Witch ham-it-up-fest. If the film is a farce, then we have a piece of art based on the “you never know who people are on facebook” trope that is about as interesting as my grandfather’s tales of walking to school in ten feet of snow. “Kids these days!!!”

But you know what my real feeling is? “Ech” and “whatever.” So, ech whatever. This film is OK. Go see it if you care about the hype. But, as Public Enemy has already said….

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Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

From what I've read about catfish, from people who aren't afraid to give some details, is that it's basically three douche-bags taking advantage of a mentally ill or mentally retarded woman to make this supposed "documentary"...I'll pass and hopefully all the hype for this movie will too.


Jan Shaw (11 years ago) Reply

Read IamRogue's (spoiler-free) movie review of CATFISH! Social media is taken to a whole new level with this documentary & critics are raving about it!


Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

Uh hey quiet earth! Are you guys gonna let the movie company that's distributing this film put ads in you comments?^^ really? IamRogue reviewed it's own movie and loves it? no way

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