Even with the hindrance of COVID-19, I’ve done my best to keep this column well rounded with the different genres I’ve reviewed. However, there’s one last category I haven’t touched upon in a long while: Documentaries. So, before we welcome in the New Year, let’s take a look at the 2020 documentary, “The Last Blockbuster.”
Despite their numerous losses, the name “Blockbuster” has yet to fully disappear from existence. Out in Bend, Oregon, there exists what is known as the Last Blockbuster on Earth. Managed by a woman known to many as the “Mother of Blockbuster,” Sandi Harding and her team have been working nonstop to keep the last remaining rental store alive and up to date for its customers. It wasn’t always like this, however. There was a time where a new Blockbuster store was opening every day across the country. So, the big question is… what happened to collapse such a clever and simple franchise?
The documentary tells the story of Blockbuster’s beginnings, their enormous growth, and their tragic conclusion. Featuring interviews with former owners of the franchise, along with notable figures like Kevin Smith, Ione Skye, Brian Posehn, Samm Levine, and others who were impacted by Blockbuster in some way.
So, there are some out there who might be wondering what’s even the point of reviewing a documentary, or making one for that manner? Why go through the trouble when you can just wait until Hollywood produces the next “Based on a True Story” movie? Well, the thing about True Story films is they’re never truly authentic. No matter how close a film tries to imitate the original story, a movie has to have a beginning, middle, and ending narrative, which means some things have to be altered or added in order to make a complete movie. A documentary, however, is under no such constraints. It says what it needs to say through research, photos, interviews, and even footage to convey the truth it wants to share, and “The Last Blockbuster” does just that.
It’s widely considered by many that the reason Blockbuster went under was because of its red rival known as Netflix, a statement that even the documentary makes in its opening. However, according to former franchise owners of Blockbuster, that wasn’t the case at all. There were other reasons why the once classic franchise failed, and as much as I want to share it, that would lead to spoilers. All I can say is the real reasons it happened are both interesting and somewhat tragic.
It also focuses on the present too, as the documentary tells us about the last Blockbuster, about Sandi Harding and her team of family and friends and how they strive to run the last store. For them, it’s been a fun and enriching experience. However, there’s still that lingering fear about the unknown future. Because when you’re the last ship afloat after the others have all sunk, there’s that fear in the back of your head that you just might be next.
“The Last Blockbuster” at the time of this review is currently Not Yet Rated. Anyone who grew up in America during the 80s and 90s can probably recall a Blockbuster from their area. Perhaps there are some out there who even worked at one. If you’re looking for an interesting trip down memory lane, this documentary is definitely a must-watch. A story about a time before social distancing and streaming films through the internet. A time where all you needed was a selection of movies and a couple bills in your pocket. So, go and give this one a rent. Or you can always just wait and see if it ends up on Netflix. How’s that for irony? Regardless, the final score for “The Last Blockbuster” is an 8 out of 10.