WINNEBAGO MAN (Dir. Ben Steinbauer, 2009)

So maybe you’ve seen or at least heard of this crazy clip (easily findable on YouTube) of outtakes from an industrial Winnebago sales film circa 1989 in which the spokesperson swears up a storm in take after take?

Labeled “The Angriest Man in the World” it began life as a VHS tape copied and passed around for years until YouTube came along in 2005 and made it a internet sensation – VH1 ranked it the third best viral video not long after.

In this more interesting than it has a right to be documentary film maker Ben Steinbauer parlays his obsession with the extremely profane man from the clip into a journey towards discovery – no, really!

Steinbauer tracks down the crew members that leaked the “bloopers” and even resorts to hiring a private detective in order to find Rebney.

Rebney turns out to be living in the mountains of Northern California and is – wait for it – an ornery profane curmudgeon.

Rebney’s strong political views and anger towards those who have made him an object of humiliation on the internet make for more swearing sequences – so much so that I can see this DVD being put on for drinking game purposes.

Steinbauer and the normally reclused Rebney argue up until the film culminates in the director taking his half blind subject to a Found Film Festival appearance where the audience treats the perpetually pissed off wannabe pundit like a rock star.

WINNEBAGO MAN is very funny and it serves as a neat little history of viral video – one in which those that are laughed at can simultaneously be regarded as everyman heroes. We feel like in those horribly hot, fly filled conditions that made this one odd guy insanely curse like it was going out of style – we may have acted the same. So the clip serves as a sort of release.

A young girl approaches Rebney after he gets off stage at the Found Film Festival and tells him: “You have no idea – this clip, everytime I’m in a bad mood I watch you swear and it makes me smile.”

Rebney smiles too and for the first time in the film he appears to “get” it.

WINNEBAGO MAN is surely to be seen by some as disposable documentary because of its silly subject matter and fanboy thrust, but as disposable docs go it’s one of the most entertaining I’ve ever seen.

WINNEBAGO MAN was released Tuesday, November 2nd, on DVD. It contains just a couple of bonus features, but they are good ones: the “Completed 1989 Winnebago Video” (25 min.) and a NYC Premiere Featurette (16 min.).

More later…


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