Winnebago Man

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Winnebago Man
Winnebago man ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ben Steinbauer
Produced by Joel Heller
Malcolm Pullinger
Ben Steinbauer
Written by Malcolm Pullinger
Ben Steinbauer
Starring Jack Rebney
Ben Steinbauer
Keith Gordon
Nick Prueher
Joe Pickett
Douglas Rushkoff
Charlie Sotelo
Cinco Barnes
Alan Berliner
Mike Mitchell
Alexsey Vayner
Music by Lyman Hardy
Andrew Hoke
Taylor Holland
Cinematography Bradley Beesley
Berndt Mader
Edited by Malcolm Pullinger
Distributed by Kino International
Release dates
  • March 14, 2009 (2009-03-14) (SXSW)
  • July 9, 2010 (2010-07-09) (United States)
Running time 85 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Winnebago Man is a 2009 American documentary feature film directed by Ben Steinbauer that follows the Internet phenomenon created by a series of twenty-year-old outtakes from a Winnebago sales video featuring profane outbursts from the salesperson, Jack Rebney.

Originally intended as an inside joke, the video spread across the globe first on VHS tape then via YouTube and other online video sites, earning the salesman the title of "The Angriest Man in the World". The documentary explores the story of the clip’s origin and how, two decades later, it affects the man who never even knew it existed.

Synopsis[edit]

The documentary starts with Steinbauer's obsession with a widely circulated viral video featuring outtakes from an RV commercial shoot, centered around a cantankerous pitchman who regularly becomes outraged and flustered, cursing in colorful mannerisms. Steinbauer researches the video, and discovers that it had been circulating on VHS long before it appeared on the Internet.

With the help of a private detective, Steinbauer ultimately tracks down the infamous "Winnebago Man": Jack Rebney. Steinbauer visits Rebney at his home in a remote mountain area in California. Steinbauer is surprised to find Rebney to be calm, congenial, and articulate — in contrast to the angry, profane man on the famous video. Rebney claims to be indifferent about the video and its popularity on the Internet. Steinbauer returns home disappointed.

But soon, Rebney begins contacting Steinbauer, and admits that he had not been candid in their first encounter. He reveals that he has long been angry about the video and its notoriety because he does not want to be remembered that way. Steinbauer learns that Rebney was once a news broadcaster who left the industry embittered by the decline in real news and the rise of opinion-based news and punditry; additionally, Rebney reveals that he now has strong political opinions that he wants to share. Rebney invites Steinbauer for a second visit, but before this takes place, local papers report that Rebney had gone missing for a time while taking a walk. When Steinbauer makes his second visit to Rebney's home, a now openly cantankerous Rebney explains that he is now blind.

Rebney gives a series of often profane, but articulate, interviews to Steinbauer. He refuses to discuss personal matters, but instead wants to make political speeches about subjects that make him angry, such as Dick Cheney and Walmart. Eventually, Steinbauer convinces Rebney to attend the Found Footage Festival in San Francisco. There, fans have lined up for a sold-out screening of the original video featuring Rebney. The fans describe Rebney's positive impact on them. During the screening, the Festival organizers invite Rebney onstage as a special guest, where he wittily engages the audience. After the screening, Rebney meets several fans who request autographs and express to him how viewing the old footage cheers them up after a hard day.

Later that night, Rebney muses to an old friend that his fans are more intelligent than he anticipated. The next day, the filmmakers and Rebney's friend drive him back home. There, Rebney's friend tells him, "You made a lot of people happy this weekend." Rebney replies by acknowledging that he takes some small degree of pride in how, for many people, he represents the human condition in the face of adversity.

Distribution[edit]

The film premiered at The South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2009.[1][2]

Kino International (Kino Lorber) acquired US theatrical and home video rights in March 2010, and released the film nationally in US theaters on July 9, 2010, and on DVD on November 2, 2010.[3][4] The movie opened theatrically at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York, before expanding nationally.[5]

KinoSmith acquired Canadian US theatrical, television and home video rights in May 2010 and released the film nationally in Canadian theaters on September 10, 2010, and on DVD on November 9, 2010.[6][7]

A sixty-minute version of Winnebago Man was aired in the UK on BBC Four on August 30, 2010 as part of the Storyville series of documentaries.

On August 12, 2011, Winnebago Man premiered on the Internet for free viewing in the United States for two weeks at Hulu and SnagFilms.[8]

Jack Rebney's voice from the Winnebago Man film was extensively sampled in the song "Slam the Door" and its remixes by Zedd.

Awards[edit]

Ben Steinbauer, Jack Rebney, and Michael Moore at the film's premiere in July 2010

Winnebago Man was also in the official selection for IDFA and Sheffield Doc/Fest.

The Austin Film Critics Association named Winnebago Man the Best Austin Film for 2010.[14][15]


Critical Response[edit]

Winnebago Man was released to critical acclaim. On review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes the film holds a 91% "certified fresh" rating with an average 7.1/10 score, based on 58 reviews.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]