In February, 2015 I wrote that Bruce Caulk, a part-time La Jolla resident, had a problem: as a movie producer/director, he had invested a bundle in a redemption movie about San Diegan Barry Minkow, who had run a huge Ponzi scheme as a teen, had been sentenced to prison, but had gotten out when he found God. He had become head pastor of San Diego Community Bible Church, also running Fraud Discovery Institute, which smelled out corporate scams, often for the government. A great turnaround movie, right?
Nope. Minkow, a recidivist self-promoter, had taken money from members of his flock to help finance the movie in which he would play a role. He had screwed them. He had screwed a large company which he had blasted in one of his scam reports. So, back to prison. (He is still an inmate at California’s Atwater U.S. Prison, near Atwater, and is scheduled to get out June 6 of next year.)
While Minkow was still a local minister, fawned over by national media, Caulk produced a movie, starring such big names as Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), and James Caan and Talia Shire (of The Godfather). But then Minkow went to prison again for those two major sins. Back in 2015, Caulk told me, “Sometimes you pull the yarn on a sweater and the whole thing unravels. We will have to integrate his repeated misbehaviors into the second act.”
This month, the new movie came out. Name: Con Man. It is not getting good reviews. “Minkow can’t act a lick and his interactions with the rest of the cast are painful,” says James Barber of Military.com, which bills the movie as “the weirdest movie of the year.” Writes Barber, “Obviously, real people lost real money investing in this movie and they deserve some kind of restitution…This is one for the all-time bad movies list. It may be the worst movie that any of the real stars from the cast have ever gotten sucked into making.”
Says ocmoviereviews.com, “The film begins to fall down when Mr. Minkow himself enters proceedings.” Minkow is “not a good actor.” Continues the review, “Con Man never reaches the giddy heights of Catch Me If You Can or.The Wolf of Wall Street In fact, to compare this to them is a fruitless exercise."