October 3, 2015
Winnebago Man is the story about tracking down the unintended ‘star’ of an outtakes video for a Winnebago industrial tape. Huh? Well, the outtakes video – originally distributed to friends via VHS – made its way onto YouTube eventually and from there it became a viral sensation. It features Jack Rebney cursing profusely as he tries to make the video while dealing with the heat and flies of the Iowa summer.
The documentary maker seeks to find Jack and determine what he thinks of his digital fame. This proves to be not an easy task, but eventually contact is made. Jack is a bit of a recluse – very much different from his previous life in media.
Included is interviews with the crew members who worked with Jack to make the Winnebago industrial video (and, we assume, led to the outtakes compilations). Also interviewed is one of Jack’s closest friends – which, no doubt, helps make the video come together.
The premise behind the documentary — finding the unintended star — I find amusing, but there is a lot of filler in the middle parts of this documentary (including showing other viral YouTube footage, unrelated to Jack). The same can be said for the filmmakers first visit with Jack. Pretty boring. But… that wasn’t the real Jack. Upon his second visit, things get a bit more interesting.
Despite the lulls in the middle, things fold up nicely in the end when Jack meets some of his ‘fans,’ and understands the impact of his outtake video.
A generous 4/5.
What’s this all about? This video (and possibly others):
More background, as told by the filmmaker and Jack, in a Q interview: