Wednesday, July 14, 2010

all hail winnebago man


I don't really remember when it was that I first witnessed Jack Rebney making a fool of himself on the interwebs. In between unavoidable fits of laughter, though, I distinctly recall thinking, man, this poor guy is having a seriously bad day.

Turns out I wasn't alone. Over the past four years, several million people have tuned in to YouTube to watch a (NSFW) clip of hilarious outtakes from a 1989 series of promotional videos that Rebney shot for Winnebago, longtime purveyors of fine recreational vehicles. And until this past weekend I had no idea that, with the mouth of a sailor and a penchant for self deprecation, Rebney had become not only the top Internet search result for "angriest man in the world" but also a cult hero of sorts. All that changed when I attended a screening of Winnebago Man, a humorous and heartwarming ode to Rebney from up-and-coming documentary filmmaker Ben Steinbauer.

We start off clueless as to the whereabouts of the former Winnebago spokesman, who drops off the face of the planet after being pink slipped in the fallout from the creation of the outtake video. But we soon learn that the enterprising Steinbauer—who plays a significant on-screen role throughout the film—has decided to stop at nothing to track down this mysterious character. Eventually, we find the former salesman and his faithful dog Buddah living alone, deep in the woods of northern California. Thus begins the deconstruction of an enlightened but frustrated soul who enjoys the simple pleasures of life and wants nothing to do with the modern world, yet craves an audience for his surprising political and existential theories.

I don't want to spoil anything by saying much more, but I'll mention that at our screening, we theatergoers had the distinct pleasure of hearing a bit of commentary from the comedic yet cantankerous Rebney, who's currently traveling with Steinbauer to help promote the film. All I can say is: That a man who flings f-bombs like they're going out of style could so eloquently and succinctly castigate the previous presidential administration and at the same time deliver a call to arms for this country to invest in things like education and our national infrastructure pretty much left no doubt in my mind that Jack Rebney is my kind of people!

And with that, I whole-heartedly recommend that you go out and see this little indie flick, which will surely be more fulfilling than any blockbuster you might catch this summer. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you think. But mostly, it'll make you feel good about being a part of this sometimes crazy, but often enlightening, Internet-world we all now live in.

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