Catfish and Grits
By Todd A. Smith
I was always told if you do not have something positive to say about someone or something you should not say it at all. However, that rule does not apply to journalists, as we are paid to say things, no matter how positive or negative they may sound.
Since I cannot just talk about the positive and ignore the negative, I will talk about the positive first. The new Catfish movie, by filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost can brag about masterful marketing that will surely get people to the movie theaters.
The Catfish movie is promoted as a riveting thriller, which are usually the genre of films that perform well at the box office, especially among male moviegoers. However, the film is no thriller and will definitely not thrill audiences who pay their hard-earned dollars to the see the film. Nevertheless, it tackles a prevalent issue that has not been addressed enough in film, which is the danger of Internet dating.
It is shot documentary style and focuses on Schulman’s brother Nev who becomes fascinated with the art work of a young child named Abby and attracted to her older sister Megan through Facebook. The two talk online before their relationship expands to phone conversations and planned trips.
Like many who have dabbled in online dating, the Catfish movie is a cautionary tale that friends made on online social networks like Facebook and MySpace may not truly be who they portray themselves to be.
Nev and his buddies set out on a cross country to journey to meet the beautiful Megan, who he believes is the love of his life and uncovers a web of lies and deceit.
The Catfish movie boasts that it is not inspired or based on a true story, it is just the truth. But the truth is your money is better off being spent on a meal of catfish and grits at the Breakfast Klub in Houston than on this movie.
Schulman and Joost succeed theatrically when they delve into the mentality of those who create separate identities online. Some harmlessly do it so that they can appeal to the opposite sex, but for some the obsession becomes sinister when those charades start involving children and the lives of others.
In addition, the characters especially Nev, are hilarious, but not hilarious or interesting enough to carry an entire film for approximately two hours.
The filmmakers had the perfect subject matter to discuss a pertinent issue in our society through film, but chose an amateurish way to relay their story. Despite the failings of this movie, I am sure that some filmmaker will soon take this serious issue and produce a series piece of filmmaking that is both entertaining and enlightening, but the Catfish movie is simply not the piece audiences are looking for.
Regardless of the outcome of this film, the filmmakers and the production company get an “A” for superb marketing and promotion, but an “F” for substance.
The film opens in Houston on Friday, Sept 24.
Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.