A review of a movie about a bizarre courtroom-TV dispute over ownership of a severed limb. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
Something’s afoot in the irresistible documentary “Finders Keepers,” and that something is a foot. A foot and ankle, to be clear, that once was attached to former North Carolina resident John Wood. Here’s the story, in a nutshell: Wood, who lost the lower part of his leg in a plane crash in 2004, kept the limb and placed it, for reasons known only to him, in his smoker grill at a storage facility in Maiden, N.C. When he fell behind on rent, the contents of his unit were liquidated and bought by a self-proclaimed entrepreneur named Shannon Whisnant, who overcame initial revulsion and reinvented himself as “The Foot Man,” exhibiting the soon-famous limb to neighbors at $3 a peek. Wood, however, wanted his foot back, as one might, and … well, somehow you just knew that this would all end up on courtroom TV, didn’t you?
It’s a you-can’t-make-it-up story, full of, um, specific detail (“My hand was dripping wet with cholesterol,” notes Whisnant, who clearly enjoys his time before the camera) and unexpected wisdom. The TV judge, in a cameo, makes the most of the perhaps never-before-stated sentence, “You’re just trying to get famous off this man’s leg.” But filmmakers Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel, over the film’s quick 84 minutes, find some humanity and pathos in the story, which eventually takes an unexpectedly heartwarming turn. Suffice to say that the foot, which makes a few coy appearances late in the film, is now at rest, and that, as Whisnant says, “Sometimes, it’s better to liquidate.”