“Who is this guy?” is a popular response to viral videos of humiliating behavior, but few passed-around tapes and forwarded YouTube links have garnered as much attention as the outtakes from a 1989 Winnebago marketing video.
RV pitchman Jack Rebney’s articulately foul-mouthed outbursts about verbal flubs, Iowa heat, flies and crew goofs — all in a broadcaster’s baritone that give the gangly Rebney’s ire a John Cleese-like majesty — have earned him the online sobriquet “The Angriest Man in the World.” They’ve also spurred Texas filmmaker Ben Steinbauer to track down this underground star.
“Winnebago Man” is the result, a breezy stalking doc in which Steinbauer locates the reluctant Web icon’s hermitlike existence on a California mountaintop, coaxing him to face the cameras one more time. There’s no denying that the now-septuagenarian Rebney — an ex-newsman disdainful of modern media who keeps some background details private, but his hatred for Dick Cheney ferociously public — is a galvanizing presence. It’s only Steinbauer’s ham-fisted attempts to impose a humanizing narrative onto this mild exploration of unexpected fame that feels needlessly forced.
But whenever Rebney gets to be Rebney — be it insulting, sweet or wearily perturbed — “Winnebago Man” shows a full tank of irascible charm.
“Winnebago Man.” MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes. At Laemmle’s Sunset 5, West Hollywood.