The Last Blockbuster. Documentary Review.

A few months ago the last remaining Blockbuster Video in the town of Bend Oregon made international news by converting its space into to a 90s themed Airbnb location. This has been one of several storeys down the years about the store. Director Taylor Morton has now made this indie documentary focusing on the location. Partially a nostalgic look back at a time when renting physical media ruled movie watching and the corporate history of Blockbuster itself. These sections are narrated by Lauren Lapkus and feature several B and C listers and corporate figures ( Kevin Smith, Doug Benson, James Arnold Taylor and Lloyd Kaufman among plenty of others) talking about their affinity for the company. Tonally the sections are looking to gain a foothold in the sort of populist focused documentary space. This was pioneered by the likes of Supersize Me. Said film is even referenced by Doug Benson. They are perfectly watchable within the context of the film but feel as if they deliver the kind of information that’s very easily accessible in any number of YouTube videos relating to Blockbuster or the decline of video stores. Viewers could distinctly argue that’s not the side of the film most watchers will be interested in. They will want to see the slice of life aspect depicting general manager Sonia Harding, her family and their day to day running of the store. It’s here the film succeeds. On one level it is a good representation of the families love and dedication they put into running the store itself. It also works as a fascinating examination of what it’s like to run a business exclusively reliant on old technology ( referring to the relative lack of computing power and databases rather than the physical media itself) in 2020. The film could have been stronger if it was cut down to an hour-long and simply focused on these segments. As it is the more celebrity-focused talking heads don’t necessarily take away from the viewing experience but do feel a little bit redundant when those interested will want to get back to the films more engaging elements. The documentary seems very aware of its niche appeal. Much as the final product might not be as good as it could be for an audience specifically looking for material relating to the last Blockbuster on earth the film does what it sets out to do relatively effectively. It will hold a level of appeal to the audience desperate to go back to a time where visitors could peruse isles of physical media as they took in the very distinctive smell around them and decided what new release they were most interested in.
7/10

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