Winnebago Man

Winnebago Man

5.0 1
Director: Ben Steinbauer

Cast: Ben Steinbauer, Jack Rebney, Keith Gordon, Ghyslain Raza

     
 
In 1988, a man named Jack Rebney spent time with a camera crew making a promotional video to be used as a sales tool for recreational vehicles. To say Rebney was having a frustrating time would be something of an understatement; unable to remember much of the sales pitch he'd written and showing little patience as he dealt with bugs, hot weather, and uncooperative

Overview

In 1988, a man named Jack Rebney spent time with a camera crew making a promotional video to be used as a sales tool for recreational vehicles. To say Rebney was having a frustrating time would be something of an understatement; unable to remember much of the sales pitch he'd written and showing little patience as he dealt with bugs, hot weather, and uncooperative equipment, Rebney spoiled take after take, swearing a blue streak as one thing or another went wrong. The editors of the video created a gag reel in which Rebney's colorful bursts of anger were strung together for comic effect, and the footage circulated on dubbed videotapes until 2005. That year, someone posted Rebney's tirade online, and before long "Winnebago Man" became an Internet sensation, with the video racking up countless views and inspiring a number of parodies and on-line tributes. But who was Jack Rebney, why was he in such a lousy mood, and is he aware of his underground fame today? Filmmaker Ben Steinbauer decided to find out, and his search to locate Rebney and uncover the true story behind his moment of Internet infamy is chronicled in the documentary Winnebago Man. The film received its world premiere at the 2009 South by Southwest Film Festival.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
A great documentary is entertaining, engaging, and enlightening. With foul-mouthed former RV salesman Jack Rebney as its subject, Ben Steinbauer's Winnebago Man is entertaining and engaging by default. The real surprise is how it's enlightening: Steinbauer uses the viral video phenomenon as a springboard to explore the effects of Internet celebrity on those who were dragged into the limelight unwillingly, and he approaches the idea in a reflective manner that reveals how we sometimes have little control over our own public image. Occasionally side-splitting and frequently poignant, Winnebago Man offers a thoughtful portrait of a reclusive curmudgeon who can't quite find the right words to effectively communicate his frustrations with the modern world, but whose colorful use of profanity has the power to bring people together in cathartic laughter. July 1989: Jack Rebney and a small video crew were producing a promotional video for Winnebago recreational vehicles when the summer heat began to take its toll on everyone involved. Perhaps the person affected most by the mounting stress and rising mercury was Rebney, whose impassioned, hilariously obscene tirades were captured on camera when the crew left the tape rolling between takes. By the time the collection of outtakes leaked, it was already too late -- Rebney's reputation as "The Angriest Man in the World" was cemented. Soon the tape began circulating on the underground video market, eventually finding its way to a young filmmaker named Ben Steinbauer, whose obsession with it grew each time he fired up the VCR. A few years later, someone uploaded the clip to YouTube, and before long the whole world was in on the joke. Now, the more Steinbauer watched the video, the more curious he became about the irritable pitchman with the pointed tongue. Determined to track down Rebney -- if he hadn't yet suffered a fatal heart attack -- Steinbauer hired a private detective and turned his former obsession into a full-time quest. Upon locating Rebney, Steinbauer is taken aback by the serene posturing of his once-temperamental subject. Little does the befuddled filmmaker realize that things are only getting started, and that his repeated attempts to break through to Rebney will soon lead them both down a path neither ever pictured himself walking. The challenge of forming a feature-length documentary around a five-minute video clip might be enough to leave even Michael Moore tongue-tied; fortunately, University of Texas film studies instructor Steinbauer recognizes this limitation, taking the opportunity to reflect on the modern concept of celebrity, and the prospect that Rebney may have been so humiliated by the video that he purposefully attempted to disappear from society. A montage of memorable viral video clips serves as a playful entry point for exploring the darker side of Internet fame as experienced by Ghyslain Raza (aka "The Star Wars Kid") -- whose case resulted in the coining of the term "cyber bullying" -- and Alexsey Vayner, whose leaked resumé video made him the laughing stock of the Internet. A subsequent interview with media expert Douglas Rushkoff (who coined the term "viral video") turns the mirror back on the viewer, and a conversation with The Show With No Name co-hosts Charlie Sotelo and Cinco Barnes offers a keen assessment of our voyeuristic tendencies. But while these ruminations are all extremely thought-provoking and perfectly relevant to the subject at hand, this minor detour never allows the focus to shift away from the object of Steinbauer's obsession for very long, and when the filmmaker engages the crew who worked with Rebney on the video, frank discussions about that troubled production lead to a startling revelation regarding the malicious intent behind the assembly of the outtakes reel. Later, when Steinbauer does manage to establish contact with the elusive Rebney, the mystery deepens and things really start to get interesting. A complex man who initially appears to be nothing like the short-fused, obscenity-spouting salesman from the popular video, Rebney claims to have absolutely no interest in capitalizing on his newfound fame, and refuses to divulge any personal information whatsoever. But later, after his initial meeting with Steinbauer, Rebney gradually starts to open up, offering candid insight into his career and opinions while still keeping the details of his personal life a closely guarded secret. While this could well have been a deal-breaker for most documentaries, Steinbauer persists, seeking out Rebney's best friend, Keith, to gain added insight into his subject, yet doing so in a way that feels neither underhanded nor invasive. Later, when the trio attends a Found Footage Festival in San Francisco, Rebney's overwhelming sense of humiliation gives way to an illuminating moment of self-realization regarding his cynical, preconceived notions about the YouTube generation he once looked upon with nothing but disdain. It's one of those natural, unguarded moments that couldn't have been scripted better, completing the portrait with the perfect final brush stroke while simultaneously setting up one final gag that reminds us just why the infamous video struck such a universal chord in the first place.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/02/2010
UPC:
0738329069223
Original Release:
2009
Source:
Kino Video
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Time:
1:25:00
Sales rank:
25,886

Special Features

The lost Winnebago sales video! (25 minutes of never-before-seen footage!); Featurette - NYC premiere w/Michael Moore, Jeff Garlin & Jack Rebney!; Theatrical trailer

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jack Rebney Participant
Keith Gordon Participant
Ghyslain Raza Participant
Alexsey Vayner Participant
Douglas Rushkoff Participant
Nick Prueher Participant
Joe Pickett Participant
Charlie Sotelo Participant
Alain Berliner Participant
Tony Dahle Participant
Nick Dangeur Actor
Tom Jandric Participant
Kevin Schmitt Participant
Mike Welckle Participant
Ben Steinbauer Participant

Technical Credits
Ben Steinbauer Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Bradley Beesley Cinematographer
Lyman Hardy Score Composer
Joel Heller Producer
Andrew Hoke Score Composer
Taylor Holland Score Composer
Chris Keyland Sound Mixer
Berndt Mader Cinematographer
Ryan Monroe Score Composer
James Payne Producer
Malcolm Pullinger Editor,Producer,Screenwriter

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Winnebago Man
1. "The Winnebago Man" [6:08]
2. New Kind of Celebrity [10:48]
3. The Crew [6:43]
4. The Old Hermit [7:22]
5. "Mary Poppins" [4:43]
6. Jack's Best Friend [4:41]
7. Return to the Cabin [8:29]
8. "You Wanna Talk About Me?" [7:55]
9. San Francisco [6:42]
10. Found Footage Festival [1:16]
11. "Ladies and Gentlemen..." [6:11]
12. The Human Condition [8:34]

Videos

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Winnebago Man 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jack Rebney is my hero! I couldn't stop laughing during this movie.