"Jaw dropping" - L.A. Times
"...Most haunting movie around..." - Playboy
We paid $29.50 for two tickets at Arclight Pasadena to see Catfish. When the L.A. times said the movie, Catfish, is "jaw dropping," I don't think they meant the ticket price. I think what they really meant was that after the movie, I would stare at the movie screen, jaw in my lap, thinking, "My god, we spent how much for this?!" And, by "haunting," surely Playboy meant the feeling I felt the next morning - completely haunted by the memory that I was completely duped by advertising and movie reviews.
In case you never heard of Catfish, then here's the trailer:
(In case you can't see the trailer above, you can find it here on YouTube.)
Catfish is a documentary about a guy named Nev who is a photographer living in NYC. One day he receives a painting of one of his photographs that had been published in a newspaper. The painting is done by an 8-year old genius artist named Abby, who lives in Michigan. He befriends Abby on Facebook. He also befriends her mom, Angela. Soon, he is sending Abby photos to paint and receiving the paintings in the mail as gifts. While on Facebook, he befriends all of Abby and Angela's family members and friends. Nev, I should say, is mighty cute and so I was willing to go with the flow and enjoy that piece of eye-candy develop an internet romance with Meg, Abby's older sister. All the while, Nev's brother and friend are filming his romance. He chats with Angela and Meg on the phone. Everything seems to be going really well, and he can't wait to meet the family, especially Meg.
Meg plays music and she takes requests for songs from Nev. She plays the music and sings and sends him back the audio. Nev is completely smitten by how talented Meg is - until he accidentally discovers that she isn't the one singing the songs. She's taking songs from Youtube and elsewhere online and pretending that they are hers.
He gets suspicious. He even suspects that maybe she's a man pretending to be a girl - 'cuz you know, people lie on the internet. Since Nev, his brother and friend are going to Colorado for a film festival, his brother and friend suggest they just drive to Michigan from Colorado and do a surprise drop-in on Meg and family.
Now, after seeing that trailer, I'd expect something horrific to happen in this movie. Like, Nev and friends visit the family and discover they're serial killers, have dead bodies danging in the barn, or at the very least, are inbred cannibals. Nuh-uh. And I don't count the surprise peek of Nev's tramp stamp as "jaw dropping", although I was "haunted" for days wondering, "What straight man has a tramp stamp?"
SPOILER ALERT! Don't read below if you don't want to know the end, but honestly, it's not really a surprise.
So the big reveal that Indiewire said is "a bizarre and completely unpredictable mystery" (really, Indiewire? I don't know even know who you are and think you're a big fat liar) is this lesson: "People can lie about who they are on the Internet, and sometimes their lies can be pathological and stupendous." This is no more bizarre or mysterious than if we were to learn sometimes dirty men drive white vans and offer candy to children in an attempt to kidnap them. It's, like, d'uh.
What happens in the end? Angela really is a mom, but has created about fifteen false identities on Facebook to create an elaborate lie. She is also Meg. She does have a daughter named Abby, but Abby doesn't paint - Angela is the one who does all the paintings. Angela is married and has two twin step-sons who have severe disabilities. It's a hard life, that's clear, and the internet fantasy is her way of stepping out of the hardship of her reality. Supposedly, her husband thinks she's been commissioned by Nev to do all the artwork. She tells Nev more lies while he's there, like, she has cancer. While Nev is visiting her, he doesn't get angry. He is stays calm and listens to this very sad lady tell him about her life.
And in the end, she kind of did get the life she wanted. She's in a big movie, albeit with a tarnished reputation, but hey, this is Hollywood - bad press is better than no press. Heck, you can now even buy Angela's art online. Maybe the real lesson? It pays to lie!
As for the "catfish" reference that the poster says "don't let anyone tell you what it is," is really a great marketing ploy because it really got me going wondering what it means. Well, here's what it meant: Angela's husband tells an anecdote about how traders would put cod in barrels to ship to China, and by the time the cod got there, their skin and flesh would be mushy. So they added catfish into the barrels to keep the cod agile and on their toes. Seriously? Do we need liars like Angela to keep us agile and on our toes? Uhm, I don't think so. I wish had a time machine because I would've rather stayed home washing my hair.