The Last Blockbuster
Duration: 86 Minutes
Director: Taylor Morden
Writer: Zeke Kamm
Producer: Nate Gilbert, Zeke Kamm, Taylor Morden, Tim Skousen
Cinematography: Gary Eidsmoe, Zeke Kamm, Taylor Morden, Noah Mucci
Editing: Tim Skousen
Released On: 15 December 2020
Star Cast: Sandi Harding, Kevin Smith, Ione Skye, Brian Posehn, Doug Benson, Paul Scheer, Samm Levine, Jamie Kennedy, Ron Funches, James Arnold Taylor, Lloyd Kaufman, Darren Hayes, Kate Hagen, Kimberly Leemans, Jared Rasic
Plot: Life was very different in the 80s and 90s for movie lovers as there was no Netflix or Prime back then. Video rental stores were the hot spots in those days. The smell of buttery popcorn and the sounds of shuffling of plastic cases only paints a partial picture of the era of a trip to a video rental store. During the ’90s, the video store reigned supreme. But there was only one giant that ruled them all: Blockbuster.
There was a time when one could witness a store opening every seventeen minutes. Those were the days. From that, the video rental store business has taken an upside turn and today there is just one store of Blockbuster standing in Bend, Oregon. Luckily, the proprietor of the last standing store is the warm and ingratiating Sandi Harding, who reckons that by now she has given a job to almost every teenager in the town of Bend, Ore., where the store operates. She refers to herself as a ‘Blockbuster Mom’.
This quirky documentary follows the nostalgia trail, taking us on a journey from Blockbuster’s glory days to its last stand in Bend, Oregon.
Review: The documentary is based on the lost glory of the video rental giant Blockbuster.
Most of Blockbuster’s history is narrated by Lauren Lapkus, who brings a jolt of energy to describe the 2008 recession, corporate mergers and rise of Netflix that helped contribute to the decline of the video giant. The movie has done a great job of explaining the fundamentals of the video store as a business, and how corporate machinations relative to debt and capital led to the Blockbuster chain’s doom.
To keep the tone light, there is also a fun puppet recreation of the Netflix/Blockbuster meeting, where Blockbuster passed on the chance to buy Netflix. Just imagine how that would have turned out in reality?
This documentary is different how – as opposed to the stuffy interviews from executives. It is a made by fans as a love letter to their fellow video store stans. Morden enlists a ragtag crew of celebrities like Adam Brody, Kevin Smith and Paul Scheer are shown waxing the poetic of the legend of video stores. One is sure to enjoy hearing from Smith, Brody, and Scheer, all of whom worked at video stores before making it big in Hollywood. There is a childlike glee when they reminisce about their time working in video stores, connecting with a community of film aficionados, and talking about their love of movies.
The real gem of The Last Blockbuster is the manager of the last remaining store, which is in Bend, Oregon. She is a self-labelled ‘Blockbuster Mom’ - Sandi Harding. Sandi shares his routing stating that shops in Target every Tuesday to pick-up new releases. The last remains of the Blockbuster store feels less like a remnant of the corporate giant and more like a mom and pop shop, with Sandi acting as the glue holding everything together.
Overall, the documentary may be a bit unfocused at times, but perhaps its structure is reflective of the allure of walking into a video store. You could wander around the aisles, seeing action movies next to screwball comedies, and explore the lovely wide world of cinema.
The movie captures how Blockbuster of Oregon is still open during COVID-19, allowing curb side rentals, and even opening the shop for pandemic safe movie sleepovers this past August. Perhaps, in this era of nostalgia, the video store will return much like that of vinyl record shops.
If you too are from the set of people who either are a video store lover, or an just an inquisitive soul who likes to know about the rise and fall of great names in history then this documentary is a must watch for you.