Fishing with John (TV Mini Series 1991) Poster

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Subtle, yet laugh-out-loud funny
Mighty E14 April 1999
"John knows nothing about fishing, but his friends don't know that...." Narrated by Robb Webb, it watches like a combination between those terrible fishing programs on PBS and the audio slide shows you watched in grade school....only those never included Tom Waits dropping live fish in his pants or Jim Jarmusch questioning the morality of shark fishing with a handgun. If you don't get the Independent Film Channel - go find a video store that stocks this marvelous program! It's a must!
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Urban fisherman forever changes format of fishing shows
peterghsd21 May 2000
I'm not sure how "Fishing with John" on DVD ended up in the house--probably my college senior daughter--or why we eventually put it in the DVD player, but some good things happen by chance. Slow-moving but funny enough to keep you awake, this "TV series" (financed by Japanese money and reportedly a big hit in Japan) hooks you good. The narrator is very funny. On Lon, the Thailand fishing guide, "Lon's legs are made of wood, but his feet are real!" Faced with a choice of hours of entertaining Dennis Hopper stories or slow-moving footage of the two of them fishing, Lurie chose the fishing. Right choice. This is a fishing show after all.

Lurie's commentaries add much--I missed the cow and pig noises on the sound track of the long shark fight in Episode 1 (they land a 12' tiger shark).

It is tempting to label Lurie's 1991 and 1992 humor as early Tom Green, but Lurie is on a different level. I am not sure the show would work as well with guests more different from Lurie (though Matt Dillon, chosen by the Japanese backers, does not fit the mold), but the guests often do not seem to be enjoying themselves. In the commentary, Lurie says he is afraid that if the skipper of the shark boat, a real fisherman who never appears on camera visually or by voice, ever sees the show "He will beat me up." His guest on Episode 2, Tom Waits, would not talk to Lurie for 2 years after filming and has never seen the show. Yet later guests Dillon and Hopper saw the completed first two episodes, loved them, agreed to come on the show, and had more or less the same things happen to them (though Hopper clearly had fun). Fishing is fishing. Sometimes the scenery compensates for all else.

Stumbling across this "TV series" on real broadcast TV would be a life-changing experience. On DVD, it is a memorable keepsake.
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laugh out loud mini series
framptonhollis1 March 2017
This is an ingenious hidden gem that is quirky, silly, and dry all at once. The premise is very simple: John Lurie goes fishing with a guest star each episode. That is pretty much all the show is on paper, but it's really much more than that. I wouldn't classify this series to be reality-TV or even an actual fishing show, it's more like an improvisational comedy show and a celebration of fun and friendship. Each episode is a hilarious adventure that is entertaining and artistic all at once.

The background music beneath the show's at times surprisingly beautiful images is breathtaking and peaceful. The show itself has a very calm and cool vibe, there's conflict every now and then but it's never taken seriously. Nothing is truly taken seriously in this series, it's all just a good time. Even the narration is often hilarious. The humor is very subtle at times, but also extremely funny. The ending of the Willem Dafoe episode was so unexpected and flat out bizarre that I burst with laughter, harder than I do while watching most programs.

It's also nice to note that, as the series goes on, it never weakens; it is always getting better and better. The final episodes with Dennis Hopper may actually have the most laughs, but it's hard for me to even say exactly. The whole series is great, and each episode has its own charms.
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Dry humor
flatspunk30 April 2006
John Lurie (musician) goes fishing with various celebrities in the early 90s. It is bizarre and dry humor. Think: The Gods Must Be Crazy meets a fishing show. The commentary on the DVD is very worth listening to if you enjoyed the episodes.

In one episode while they are fishing there are sounds of children playing in the background. In other episodes the narrating voice over tells the viewer RANDOM facts and observations (ie: someone is eating a sandwich and the narrator mentions he would like a bite)

Meta-humor, dry humor and bizarre humor at it's finest, I understand why Criterion picked this one up for release.
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I'm so happy I stumbled across this
SSteve4 August 1999
I'm so happy I stumbled across this. Not only was it laugh-out-loud the first time, but watching it the second time with John Lurie's commentary made it even better. Now I'm making a list of all of the people I'm going to give a copy to this Christmas.
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I got away
charlietuna4 June 2001
All anyone can say about John Lurie is that he has been a fresh, creative voice in music and film for a long time. I don't think many people fully understand Zappa, nor did anyone get Blair's "Wax, or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees" and Lurie is similarly inaccessible. For whatever reason, I find his work sublime. This series of shows is a riot for anyone who laughed out loud more than three times while watching "Fargo".
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Often Whimsical, Sometimes Funny
TheExpatriate70027 March 2011
"Fishing with John" is a different kind of fishing show, one where the fishing is not the main point of the series. Rather, what we get is a whimsical spoof of early Saturday morning fishing shows, sending up their tendency to over dramatize fishing.

This show is not for all tastes. It has a very high whimsy factor, and much of the humor derives from subtle irony, such as the use of hyperbolic narration and bombastic music for calm, non-exciting scenes. The show is also duologue heavy, and has an obviously low budget, which translates at times into shoddy camera work.

Nevertheless, I like this series because it captures, in its own way, one of the best parts of fishing: the tranquility and calm. With its silences and its appreciation of the simple interactions between the fishermen, it does more than any prize fish to remind us of what makes fishing great.
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Cult classic.
bodegamedia12 January 2011
Shot in '91/'92 Fishing with John is a fishing program not at all about fishing. Resembling any cheap 90's cable TV fishing program it mostly consists of horrible looking video, music that ranges from dodgy Casio beats to some lo-fi jazz noodlings and a Hollywood style voice-over dramatic enough to make fishing exciting. All these elements together are totally disarming at a passing glance, but give yourself 5 minutes and you begin to feel a surrealistic undercurrent. This is John and his friends getting stoned, talking a bit and failing to catch fish.

It's hard to imagine under what circumstances this show came to be. Was it produced in the spirit of a parody from the start and if so who was in on the joke? Were they really all high? What was the audience and where was this to be shown? I get the sense that without this Criterion release of Fishing with John we'd be very lucky to maybe catch the show at an obscure cult video festival or tucked away in a very late night cable TV slot.

I listened to the full commentary with director and host John Lurie to try get a handle on it all. Apparently, in the early nineties John had developed a habit of shooting his fishing trips with his film industry friends on hi8. He'd been threatening to do a show for a while, his take on what he saw as the bizarrely relaxing cable TV fishing show. Somehow he came to meet a Japanese investor eager to invest in almost anything and thus came forward the money for Fishing with John. I can only imagine the face of the producers upon receiving the show they had paid for. It's a surreal stoner's odyssey. We travel around the world with John and his guests Jim Jarmusch, Tom Waits, Matt Dillon, Willem Dafoe and Dennis Hopper. The commentary reveals an episode that never got made with Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. That would have been golden. But the thing is Fishing with John is golden. It's so unusual, in some ways very arty and sometimes utterly dumb. One minute it's philosophical musings, the next it's staged scenes of drama. It has that elusive x factor, the allure of the too bizarre to be true found only in rare one off gems like 'King of Kong' or 'I Like Killing Flies'.

According to John, Tom Waits got so seasick and irate that they didn't talk for two years after the making of the show, Matt Dillon clammed up every time the camera rolled, Willem Dafoe was hilarious, Jim Jarmusch was easy going and Dennis Hopper was high on sugar and couldn't fish at all. I could watch this show all day if there were only more episodes that existed. Never mind 'Speed Racer', Fishing with John is the real ultimate stoner DVD.
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fishing tv for people who don't fish
eae16 May 1999
I have just discovered this 6 part series on Bravo in Canada and have made it part of my must-see tv schedule. From the doleful signature tune to the Armageddon '50s voice overs, this quirky travelogue is about the guy stuff between fish that mainstream fishing shows edit out. Now if I could just get the "Fishing With John" theme out of my head ...
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Missing the point...
grimone27 August 2002
After reading the viewer comments, I felt compelled to weigh in with my input. Let me first point out that humor is very personalized, and it's often hard to objectify. I personally find the humor in "Fishing with John" perfectly suited to my tastes. It is irreverent and dry. As far as trying to read anything into the relationships between the prncipals, I feel it would be a mistake. John Lurie is not a fanboy- he has been involved in the undergound film and music worlds for a long time. These people (excluding Matt Dillon) were well known by Lurie before they went on these trips. It is interesting to get a glimpse into these people away from their comfort zones, but one should be wary about making any assumptions based upon this series.

Enjoy the beautiful locales. Enjoy the meaningless banter. Enjoy the wry sense of humor of the narrator. Don't get caught up in looking for deep meanings or symbolism. Don't miss the point.
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Hey! It's Video and it's Experimental. Lighten up!
Eschete5 July 2000
I got my B.A. in Television Production, which means that I appreciate the cleverness of this show more than a lot of people might. I saw all 6 episodes on the Independent Film Channel, and I like each one (some more than others). In general, though, the show is less about fishing and more about parodying documentaries, which a lot of the viewers who reviewed here seem to have missed.

John Lurie takes famous people fishing, in order to give people a look at what they might be like in real life. They are just as boring as anyone else. The narrator speaks in a dramatic deadpan, even delivering the most ridiculous voice-overs without a hint of humor. It's funny if you're sharp enough to get it.

The slow, boring pauses are PART OF THE JOKE, darn it! These people are actors, for God's sake, not philosophers! Of course they don't have anything to say! Who would?

And the lack of fishing skill...amazing to behold.

Watch this show and enjoy it. But remember, keep in mind what a REAL documentary is like. Look for: fish in the pants (Waits), cheese and a 9mm pistol, boredom. Grade: B+.
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Fish - Extra Dry
cilardi19 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Bravo/IFC was a client of the company I worked for in the early 90s, so I saw each of these episodes as they were completed. I had to say I couldn't make head or tails of what John Lurie was trying to do in this series, until I saw the Willem Dafoe episode. They had me hooked as they experienced the hardships of ice fishing, but when they froze to death at the end, I just fell over laughing and said, "Ah! THIS is what the series is all about!" Then I went back and watched them all over again. It goes without saying that this show is not for everyone, but it must have a diverse following: stock footage from the Jim Jarmusch episode made it into the "Hooky" episode of "Spongebob Squarepants!"
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Strange and Beautiful Movie
clairebecc9 August 2001
After becoming a huge Fan of John's music I watched "Fishing with John", and became a huge fan of John as a actor, and person. This series will have you laughing out loud and quoting lines for days. The interactions between John and his guest is unlike any other film. It is pure joy that will make you want to grab a fishing pole, friend and a cammera and hit the water.
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wonderful and beautiful
gary_r29 January 2003
one of the few dvd's i can watch over and over again. i laugh and feel warm from head to toe. sure it is odd but what do think you are going to get from john lurie? nypd blues? be real. it also includes a great lounge lizard video to put the icing on the cake. oh yeah, i own the music cd too. waiting for something new john.... please.
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Will there ever be a TV show as good as Fishing with John?
guice_tv9 January 2018

And nothing will ever be as funny as episode 4 of Fishing with John.
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A prank
obeys14 October 2018
I think the whole thing is clearly a prank from Lurie. But at the same time it is totally beautiful in it's weirdness. I loved it. And Lurie and Jarmusch together are a black humor force anyway.
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Interesting Experimental Fishing Show with So-So Results
zetes4 June 2000
I had gotten a gift certificate from Amazon, and this program seemed interesting to me, so I went ahead and bought it. I'm not entirely glad I did. I enjoyed the cinematography and the music very much, but you know you have a problem when this is the most noticeable aspect of any film. The comedy is often very subtle and clever, but it is also very hit-and-miss. There are also a lot of dry spells during which the narrator, Robb Webb, tries his hardest to liven things up with his often hilarious, but also often annoying, narration. Here are my critiques of the individual episodes:

Episode 1: Montauk with Jim Jarmusch - Being the first episode, you have to give it a little bit of first-timer forgiveness, but this episode is bordering on terrible. Probably the best part of the series is just seeing what these famous people are like in their normal lives. And while Jarmusch is a major player in current independent cinema, I had never even seen him in person before, nor did I know anything about his personality. Neither he nor John Lurie talk very much at all. Robb Webb doesn't say much, either. John Lurie made a major mistake when making this episode by guessing what Jarmusch and the fish they are catching are thinking. "Why I am I here?" he says three different times when Jim Jarmusch is on camera, and "HELP ME!" when the fish are being pulled up. This doesn't work at all. It makes the show seem like a cheap version of MST3K or that Blind Date show on the UPN network. I give this one a 4/10.

Episode 2: Jamaica with Tom Waits - It's sporadically funny. And it's very nice to look at. This episode has one major problem: Tom Waits is really, really angry at John through most of the episode, and we never see why. "You are a real mess, John," he says at the very end of the episode. Tom seemed to be having fun for most of the episode. Also, Robb Webb is at his most annoying, least funny mode in this episode. At one point, he says for no reason, "I would love a bite of your sandwich." This could have been hilarious if he had delivered it properly, say, if he read the line as if he were actually asking somebody in the sound recording booth for a bite of his sandwich. Instead, the line sounds as if the filmmakers are just trying to be weird. The beginning narration by Webb is classic, though he says the same thing again in episode 5. 6/10

Episode 3: Coasta Rica with Matt Dillon - This is my favorite episode. It was pretty consistently funny. There are a lot of funny jokes about the rickety plane they travel in, John's inability to comprehend Spanish fully, Matt Dillon's connections to james Arness' character on Gunsmoke, and especially magical customs and beliefs of the indigenous peoples. The fish dance which John and Matt do "to apologize for the pain that the fish suffer" is the highlight of the entire series. Webb is also very funny in this episode. 8/10

Episode 4: Maine with Willem Dafoe - This is a very close second best episode. While it does not match the hilarious antics of episode 3, it is so cleverly directed and edited that it is actually exciting to watch. We are lead to believe that the fishermen are suffering and struggling for life in the icy weather. This excessive cleverness put a sly smile on my face for the entire episode. 8/10

Episodes 5 & 6: Thailand with Dennis Hopper - These episodes are well worth watching just for Dennis Hopper, even though he doesn't really talk that much (Willem Dafoe and Tom Waits are the two guests who talk the most). Their humor value is not enormous, but it is not hit-and-miss, either. The big joke about these two episodes is that Webb narrates as if Dennis and John are hunting for the never before caught giant squid, whereas the two men are obviously just fishing for, well, fish. 7/10

Overall: well worth a weekend rental, but I doubt many rental stores will have it. It's not worth owning. Overall: 7/10
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This is serious !! Serious Fun !!!
wobelix23 May 2002
For all of us who like to be tickled with this fun that is close of being too way out; for those who look for the descendants of Monty Python; for all of us who love the independent humour of Groucho Marx: here's John Lurie !!! And his friends !! And they go fishing ! Oh yes, indeed.

Really, these shows are fun. Great Fun ! And the music is so mellow and wonderful and exactly on the spot.... Wow.... Wow !!!
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acs_joel10 September 2006
Fishing With John was pure genius, miles ahead of any other fishing show ever conceived. The show lampoons the old American Sportsman with a dynamic, deep voiced narration, testing the viewer's ability to pay attention with over-your-head little gems. Gadabout Gaddis would be turning 3000 rpm in his grave, if he saw John and Jim Jarmusch. Its too bad the show didn't catch on with ESPN2, I'd watch it every Saturday morning. It would be more entertaining than that obnoxious Shaw Grigsby. One would think a show featuring Dennis Hopper fishing would be something ESPN would bite on. Maybe Ted Nugent could have pushed it over the edge to mainstream America. It is destined to remain cult classic.
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Atlas.no11 January 2000
The story of the Cow and the Ant that John Lurie tells Tom Waits and his friend in Jamaica, describes the TV-serie in miniature. Simple, philosophical, funny and with no point at all, but also strange sophisticated...

Don`t watch if you are looking for fishing-tips.
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Fishing? Your kidding!
alaskamark-130 November 2005
I watched this DVD while snowed in and cooking dinner for my family. I am glad I had more to occupy my self. Dull with mold funny moments. Perfect for in the kitchen! All episodes have a dialodge that parallels the pace of real fishing... (snore) There are some interesting scenes, but..I cant remember one. Get this one for your brother in law for x-mas. The photography is however good and the narrator ads to the humor with FEW witty comments. I have no idea who the "lounge lizards" are.(advertised between episodes) The best part of the DVD was the menu music! Maybe they will make a follow up? Huntung with John would surely be MURDER to watch! I did not view the commentary portion of the DVD. Good luck.
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Rushmore_Elite11 November 2004
Being a fan of Lurie and/or Jim Jarmuch is certainly a plus when buying this. Being a fan of both I ordered it and received it just the other day.

One third home-video, one third fishing-documentary and one third spoof, this is a fantastic DVD to own! And I'm not even remotely interested in fishing!

How good is it? I watched all the episodes in one sitting, then watched them again, this time with commentaries. How often can you say that of a purchased series on DVD?

This one's a keeper!
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Float On!
clf-739983 February 2021
A meditative comedy about everything and nothing at all. Intellectualism for pop culture nerds. This show is a masterpiece that has so much more going on than first meets the eye. The filmmaking is cheap but first rate. This show is for people who understand that the world is not perfect but it can be a lot of fun.
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B+ my arse
John Lurie is hilarious in this movie. The fact that he got managed to get money to make this movie is amazing. But I am ever so glad he did.

When you watch this movie you will see Thailand, Costa Rica, Maine and Willam Defoe with delirium. It'll make you laugh pretty hardy style. The scenes are gorgeous.

Good to watch in the middle of the day. By yourself, with your friends, no matter it'll entertain you by itself. And when you get it don't think you'll be able to watch just one of them. Oh no, you'll have a craving.

As most of the movies I give my premium ratings. It must have originality. And if you cannot dig this. Do not read any of my other comments. I repeat. Do nottt do it.
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What a pretentious load of crap.
sirasb-213 November 2001
It's pretty obvious what happened here. John Lurie wanted to find a way to get someone else to pay for him to go on vacation. So he figured, hey why not call up some famous people I know and see if they'll be willing to go fishing with me for free, on the condition that I can tape it and sell it to PBS. It doesn't seem like these guys (I saw Jarmusch and Waits) even want to be there. You know that real nerdy friend you have who you hang out with maybe once a year? Well that's what Lurie seems to be to these guys. And I was frankly a little uncomfortable watching home video of their time together. It's boring as hell to watch. And of course, it's filled with plenty of lame John Lurie music that doesn't even fit the scenes.
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