Tonight and tomorrow night, you’ll have the chance to see in person the guy some call the World’s Angriest Man.
Jack Rebney, notorious motor-home motormouth and “star” of the new documentary Winnebago Man, will appear at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema for screenings of the film, which opens nationwide later this summer.
He’ll have help from a filmmaker who is no stranger to sounding off, Michael Moore. The Oscar-winning director of Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11 and other cinematic howls of outrage will help Rebney introduce tonight’s 7:30 showing of Winnebago Man. Moore has called the film “one of the funniest documentaries ever made!”
Both the 7:30 and 9:35 shows at the Sunshine tonight and tomorrow night will be followed by a Q&A with Rebney and Winnebago Man director Ben Steinbauer. If you have never seen Rebney’s infamous web rants, stop reading now and click on the YouTube clip below. If you have, then you know the post-screening chats should make for a raucous good time.
Who the hell is this Rebney guy, anyway?
He was, of all things, an RV salesman. A very agitated one at that. During the making of a series of industrial films about Winnebagos, Rebney let fly a torrent of profanity that was coarse yet creatively articulated. The outbursts were captured in outtakes from the films and later traded by hand on VHS tapes in the Nineties.
When the Internet hit, the tapes were uploaded. They quickly went viral in the first half of this decade—and the rest is history.
Steinbauer, a filmmaking professor at the University of Texas in Austin, was fascinated by these clips of the odd man blowing his bald top. Steinbauer also wondered about larger issues such as the public use of people online without their permission—or even their knowledge. Such was the case with Rebney, despite the fact that an estimated 20 million people have watched his meltdowns.
The director sets out to find this Rebney character. Eventually, he tracks him down—living on a mountain top in California with a dog named Buddha as his only companion. As Steinbauer digs deeper into Rebney’s life and background (why does Rebney enunciate his F-words so F-ing clearly, anyway?), he finds a man who is no less irascible than he was in those original clips. The tale then turns serious and surprisingly touching.
Winnebago Man also reveals a lot about our culture now, in ways that Steinbauer probably did not intend. A stream of talking-hipsters parades across the screen to imitate or mock Rebney’s rants or laugh at him in disbelief. They purport to “love” him, yet they ridicule his behavior again and again.
What they’re really doing, it seems, is revealing their immaturity in the company of a sincere man doing something that, to them, is truly radical: expressing actual human emotions. The commentators in the film, with their flat affect and ironic detachment, come off looking far worse than the testy Rebney.
Even Steinbauer seems to question why Rebney talks back to him so indignantly when, duh, the filmmaker is basically “directing” the supposed subject of his documentary instead of interviewing him.
But these flaws and contradictions, and there are many, actually enhance its interest. They make this funny film even more fun to think about and—in the spirit of Jack Rebney himself—argue about.