Movie Review Rewind: Winnebago Man (2010)
There is just something funny about people getting upset. It’s even better when they curse and their outbursts are caught on tape. That is what got this documentary’s wheels going. But, Winnebago Man is about the guy captured on tape who has a foul mouth and is pretty pissed off. It is full of heart and laughs, and it all comes from Jack Rebney–the man in the video and the star of this film.
In 1988, this industrial video was being filmed about the Winnebago and Rebney was the person who guided you through it and told you all about them. Now the video is not what made him popular. It was the outtakes of him going off and holding nothing back. That video was passed around in the 90s and became an internet phenomenon on YouTube in 2005. It brought laughs and entertained over 20 million people. But who is this man? And does he have any idea how popular he is?
That is what filmmaker Ben Steinbauer sets out to do in Winnebago Man and when he does finally meet Rebney, it is not the encounter he counted on. But even as they get to know each other, what Rebney wants to talk about and what Steinbauer wants to talk about are two different things.
Steinbauer wants him to know what has been going on on the Internet and how famous he is to a lot of people. These same people want to know who he is and meet him. But Rebney could not care less about his video or the Internet. He wants to talk about the issues of the world and how it is going to hell in a hand basket. He specifically hates Dick Cheney with a passion.
Nevertheless, this documentary is not about what Steinbauer wants or anyone’s thoughts on politics. It is about Rebney and he is the person who makes this documentary fascinating and humorous. Rebney is the same man who was in that video. What you see is what you get. I will give Steinbauer some credit for being able to dig deeper and get more of who Rebney is and what he stands for. He starts to show his soul and you cannot help but resonate and feel for this guy.
There is this question of why this video of Rebney losing it is so popular. There are deeper reasons that are explored such as people who have had a bad day sit down and watch it and feel better because things could be worse. I think the answer is a simple one. We find comedy in bad language and it’s funnier when it is real.
Clearly, Steinbauer wants to make the video and its popularity more than what it is. I do not think Steinbauer means to pick on Rebney and bring him in to the spotlight to mess his quiet life up, which he does kind of do anyway. He appears to be genuine. Yet, there are times when it feels like he is using Rebney more than helping him. Either way, Winnebago Man brought us Rebney and that makes this documentary worth it.
“Nature Boy” Brandon Vick is the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and star of Brandon’s Box Office In Your Mouth. Follow him on Twitter@SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.