The Last Blockbuster Review

As a 90s kid (one week in the 1990s certainly counts), I do remember Blockbuster. In fact, as embryonic I may be, there are fond memories of Blockbuster trickling through this barely formed brain of mine. One time, I rented Luigi’s Mansion for my GameCube and did not return it. Five-year-old me was quite the savvy businessman, and seemingly predicted that, eventually, the business would close and my parents wouldn’t have to pay the mounting return costs. Up until a few years back I still had that copy of Luigi’s Mansion, but I sold it for alcohol. All these years later and one Blockbuster video remains. The Last Blockbuster, then, is a documentary looking to highlight this final bastion of the past we nostalgia freaks cling to, for we dare not face reality.

No, not a documentary linked at all to the exceptionally hilarious Twitter account of the same name, The Last Blockbuster takes us through the blue and pastel halls of the once-thriving industry of video rentals. Documenting the rise and fall of the once-great company, The Last Blockbuster falls like so many other nostalgia projects. It shuffles away from the history rather immediately, instead focusing on celebrities and B-Listers looking to edge their way into a project they have no real reason to be a part of. Kevin Smith is a link that makes sense, Clerks and the influence Blockbuster seemingly had make for a semi-decent inclusion, though he offers little of interest. Adam Brody and others join an encore that means we do not get a feel for the impact of Blockbuster, we get a feel for the popularity it had among creatives, and nothing more.

By far the greatest issue is the use of anecdotes. One about Deuce Bigalow and recounting the walk to Blockbuster is fine for a blog post, but this is shown as an awful re-enactment. Earnest or not, these people are mourning the loss of a conglomerate that, had it not provided them with memories of frozen pizza and Dr Pepper on a Saturday night after school, would not care one iota for the death of this industry. Such is the life of those that wish to spend their days renting films to those who are not as engaged with the art as others. You can still do this, but the times, as Bob Dylan was often fond of mentioning, are a-changin’. Personally, I’ve never seen the appeal of rentals. I’d rather own a hard copy of something. Just now, I’ve imported the Criterion of Life is Sweet, for who knows when or why I will return to that, it is nice to have it just in case.

It is at least somewhat interesting to get a peek behind the curtain of how a modern Blockbuster works. How they source new films, and how they did have an impact on the cult movie circuit. “The greatest American symbol of true monopoly.” quips director Lloyd Kaufman. A bold statement to make about a dying business, but perhaps that is the point. Filmmaking and creativity are dying, because to some degree Blockbuster was able to circulate and champion smaller classics, but no longer is that the case. The issue The Last Blockbuster has is that many of its interviews are of no interest, but are included because they have some slight association with the blue and yellow brand. They are former employees, fans of the brand, nostalgia junkies like the rest of us. It opens an embarrassing portion of our past, and those that still cling to it must join society with the rest of us, whether they like it or not. Join the grey line, accept the death of video rentals and buy a region free Blu-ray player like the rest of us.

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