Craigslist Joe: A review
By: Caroline Paxton
Joseph Garner is a 29-year-old Jewish man living in Recession-era Ame rica. The documentary opens with Garner in a state of dwindling faith as more and more people fall on hard times and the end of a bleak economic trench seems nowhere in sight. To counter act the brewing cynicism he decides to embark on an unprecedented trans-American journey searching for the answers to life’s hard questions. The only catch to his journey of existential quandary is that he can only use one resource to survive: craigslist.
Along his journey Garner meets handfuls of lively, brightly-lit characters, all of whom seem to be spiritual refuges in their own rite. He meets several baby-boomer hippies, still very much in contact with the spirit of Woodstock, and a handful of young transcendental types all searching for the same meaningful connections.
Garner is surprisingly successful in his endeavor and makes it across the country and back in 31 days and even manages to tag along on an excursion across the Mexican border and back. Throughout the entire month of travel, he never goes a day without eating and never sleeps a night on the streets. He is able to live, quite comfortably, off of the kindness and goodwill of strangers and the random quirkiness of craigslist.
This film really tries to be emotional and inspiring and succeeds somewhat in generating lukewarm emotions in the viewer. There were a few stirring moments in the film where the scenario is heart wrenching and deeply moving but is marred when the shot pans to Garner crying and one word pops in to your head “overkill”. The legitimacy of the emotion comes into question and the viewer is left feeling somewhat emotionally tender, and in need of a an hour at the gym pumping iron and listening to Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train”.
However, the entire conceptual design of the film is remarkable both in its originality and universality. Producer Zach Galifinakis succeeds with his trademark eminence in dark humor and creativity. Ironically after I finished the film I found myself browsing on craigslist for the one ad that was going to change my life.