Star – Jo Exotic
My Rating ****
Genre – Documentary
Run Time – 18 x 50 Minutes.
Certificate – 18
Country – U.S.A
Awards – Wins & Nominations
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
So the big Netflix documentary hit so far this year is Tiger King, getting a huge audience during lockdown, so much so that Nicolas Cage is lined up to play the currently incarcerated star, Joe Exotic, in the movie. Joe owned one of America’s biggest private big cat parks, the Greater Wynnewood Zoo , the film pitching him against two other owners of private big cat parks across America, Carole Baskin of the Big Cat Rescue Park and John Reinke of the GW Zoo.
Joe is an out-and-out redneck, and openly gay, his parks run on a budget but a big earner for him, his desperate skeleton staff and animals the low end of the market, mostly Tigers. Mike Tyson and Shaq O’Neil recently denied buying tigers from him over the years. It’s believed there are over 11,000 tigers privately held over the USA, but just 4000 in the wild around the world.
Carole Baskin claims to run a wildlife sanctuary for neglected and recovered animals, rather than breeding big cats for profits, what they all seem to do on the side, easy to make 30 grand a day with big crowd in petting the cubs and watching the displays. The staff is paid peanuts on all the three parks and most work for free on Baskin’s sanctuary; and proud of it. But Mrs. Baskin makes big money on the gate to. Reinke is the more exploitative character, using his park to get women and status within the big cat community, more like a dodgy US Preacher in the big house than a wildlife park owner.
And so the take unfolds of how the three parks intertwine and the two owners, Joe Exotica and Carole Baskin, went to war, Joe accusing her of killing her ex husband and feeding him to the tigers, she accusing him of running illegal animal trafficking and sales, and that’s just for starters. He takes the war more personal and attacks her through his social media set up, she responding with law suits.
As the eight part series rolls on the claims and events get more extraordinary, more husbands for Joe, more claims against the Baskin’s, an Elmore Leonard murder mystery and as twisty as a fat mans hernia. There are bags full of characters you would not want to meet in a dark alley and drugs, sex and some country music to spice it up some more, and a hitman or two thrown in. You couldn’t make it up. When a man called Jeff Lowe arrives you couldn’t make it up some more.
It’s just really entertaining and whole new worked to discover. Who knew 70% of the worlds tigers were in dusty fields and cages in the American bush? Well they are and this cracking documentary has some rich characters to play with and play with them they do.
It’s a documentary within a documentary as Joe Exotic had hired a full social media crew and TV studio to promote his brand, this film using a lot of that footage to weave its plotlines and the downfall of Joe. At one stage Joe’s ego gets so far ahead of him he decides to run for congress and gets 12% of the vote! He really is a charismatic chap.
It’s funny, its eye opening, it’s charming and its bonkers it’s real. The saddest thing f all is the exploitation of these incredible beasts. Netflix do some stuff really well.
Imdb.com 7.6/10.0 (59 ,234 votes)
Rottentomatos.com 85–critic’s approval
Metacritic.com 71– critic’s approval