Craigslist Joe movie review: The kindness of strangers

31 days. No money. No outside help. One man decides to put his fate in the hands of Craigslist. Produced by comedian Zach Galifianakis, this documentary chronicles one man’s cyber sojourn that asks the question: Can man survive by internet alone?

Craigslist Joe in front of church

Meet Joe Garner, a nice, clean-cut Jewish kid from Los Angeles with a dream. From transportation to meals, from a roof over his head to friendship, Joe engages in a social experiment to prove that Americans really are altruistic and want to lend a helping hand. But when push comes to shove, will Joe really be able to rely on the kindness of strangers?

Joe’s journey begins when he finds a ride to Oregon on Craigslist. The driver seems a bit odd, not so much for having a stuffed rooster as a traveling companion, but more for the extreme confidence he has in his van, that is literally falling apart before our very eyes. Several mechanics later, Joe makes it to Oregon and it becomes clear there are quite possibly enough strange, lonely, open-minded people on the internet to keep Joe afloat for the next 30 days.

Craigslist Joe lady hoarder

Joe then cyber-hitches to Seattle, Chicago and New York, meeting lots of new people, including a really nice dominatrix, on the way.

In New York, he befriends a woman named Fran with cancer who’s decided to skip chemo and heal herself. A former actress, she now lives in a tiny apartment that would be an excellent candidate for the show Hoarders. Though her mental instability and mood swings could provide an excellent opportunity for Joe to look at the camera and roll his eyes to induce a laugh, he doesn’t. Joe engages with her fully and seems to truly appreciate that she is sharing her pulpy, green ick-juice with him. He compliments her love for life and helps clear a room of clutter. What a nice kid!Craigslist Joe New OrleansBut that is a bit of the problem with Craigslist Joe being a truly gutsy experiment. Joe’s a nice guy. Even over the phone, he comes off as smart and stable. He’s the kind of guy you want to help. While I enjoyed watching his unprecedented journey, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if Sacha Baron Cohen tried to make this trip. But clearly Joe and producer Zach Galifianakis wanted to make a documentary and saw Joe as the straight-man in this comedic equation.

Bottom line: For anyone who uses Craigslist or has a good Craiglist story, you’ll enjoy watching Joe survive with the help of a unique online community that until now, has never before existed.

Photo credit: CLJ Films