While this might not be the worst documentary I've ever seen, it's certainly the most pointless. Basically, it's 90 minutes that repeatedly emphasizes that, yes, this Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon really is *the last one* -- sort of like if someone turned a five-minute cable news feature into a feature-length documentary. (And actually, as the documentary itself even acknowledges via clips, this store has already been the subject of numerous features on cable and in various publications.)
So what are we left with? Basically, a short history of the video rental business (the only interesting part in the entire film) and a lot -- and I do mean A LOT -- of interviews with gawkers who travel from out of state to bask in the ambiance of that hallowed last Blockbuster. Those interviews are very insightful, offering memories of how they rented movies as kids, the smell (?) of most Blockbuster stores, people who've resisted streaming and even a truly inspirational five-minute segment in which interviewees are handed old plastic VHS rental cases and offer fascinating insights about the sound of opening these cases and their shape.
All sarcasm aside, the video store concept is inherently flawed in the first place. What this romanticized hagiography leaves out is that to make money, the vast majority of video stores had very predictable -- if not lowest-common-denominator -- selections and, more often than not, video tapes that didn't play that well because of overuse. In its monopolistic quest to conquer the market, Blockbuster dumbed that down even more, stocking itself with more copies of 'Jurassic Park' and 'Titanic' than it had in its entire cult or foreign sections. I don't like to put on a damper on anyone's memories, but is this really what some people are nostalgic for? I could understand if it was about a Psychotronic-styled video store that actually did have unique offerings and preserve history, but that was never Blockbuster. Blockbuster was homogenization on steroids.
The main issue, however, is that the topic just isn't compelling enough for a documentary. Blockbuster's history is as mundane as its selections used to be, and if the manager of the last one is an interesting person, it's not evident here. One can admire her tenacity in the face of streaming, but the interviews with her cleaning the shop, talking about how members of her family have worked in the store, cooking dinner and negotiating with Viacom (which owns the Blockbuster name) are, well, boring.
As 'The Last Blockbuster' notes, there were reasons other than Netflix for the demise of the Blockbuster chain. However, streaming is far more convenient and offers a vastly superior selection -- something that most video stores were never going to overcome. If anyone wants to wax nostalgic about Blockbuster, great, but I say good riddance.
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