Friday, October 29, 2010

Winnebago Man DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: DVD Features Update on Foul-Mouthed Youtube Sensation

When Jack Rebney was shooting a Winnebago commercial back in the Eighties, he had no idea that the outtakes would one day turn him into a celebrity. Otherwise, he might not have unleashed a series of epithets every time he flubbed a line or whenever he found himself frustrated by his inept intern, Tony.
But that is exactly what transpired in 2005, when a video of Jack’s expletive-laced tirades was first posted on Youtube. Since then, over 20 million people have watched the 4-minute meltdown, making the foul-mouthed pitchman as popular as such other internet sensations as Tay “Chocolate Rain” Zonday and that lady who fell through the trap door.
Personally, I’ve never had much interest in any Youtube curiosities beyond their 15 minutes of fame, but that wasn’t the case with director Ben Steinbauer who was compelled to track down Jack Rebney not only to learn the back story of the filming of the automobile ad, but to make a bio-pic chronicling his subject’s life both before and since.
The upshot of that endeavor is Winnebago Man, a documentary which serves to humanize a guy most would probably presume to be a bully with a very mean streak. Today, however, 78 year-old Jack proves to be quite a sympathetic figure, between being legally blind and living alone in a modest cabin in the woods. Intermittently exhibiting flashes of his trademark temper, he explains that he was actually fired by Winnebago soon after the taping, when someone sent the company some clips of his outbursts.
Among other things, we learn that Jack is very opinionated politically, and that he has a few choice cuss words reserved for the Bush administration. The icing on the cinematic cake arrives when director Steinbauer coaxes the hermit out of hiding to meet some of his rabid fans at an internet convention in San Francisco where he was billed as “The Angriest Man in the World.” They might have been a tad disappointed to discover that the Winnebago Man is now frail and in failing health, however just such sobering touches of reality are what make this tenderhearted bio-pic worth its while.
What’s next, a full-length documentary about the life and times of Chris “Leave Britney Alone” Crocker?

Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 85 Minutes
Studio: Kino International
DVD Extras: The Lost Winnebago Sales Video (25 minutes of never-before-seen footage), featurette of the NYC premiere with Michael Moore, Jeff Garlin, & Jack Rebney, and the theatrical trailer.

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