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STUDIO MPI Home Video
RUNNING TIME 90 Minutes
• Audio commentary
• Over an hour of bonus interviews covering laserdiscs, the remix culture, video panic and more
• Original animations
• Music video
“A documentary about the thing before DVD. No, not laserdisc, you hipster. VHS!”
Atom Egoyan, Drew McWeeny, Jason Eisener, and a guy in a VHS costume
A brief history of VHS and its fans. Mmm…
NOTE: You can purchase this documentary on VHS. I did not view it on VHS. I reviewed the DVD. Because of this, I give myself
Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Here’s the thing about this documentary. It’s rife with the potential for riveting storytelling. There are politics and business involved about a niche thing that no one cares about. The format wars were incredibly intense, so to be able to get a behind the scenes look into the machinations of that would have been astounding. Talking to some of the people at the forefront of when VHS won and its lasting legacy would have been great documenting.
Unfortunately, my expectations were sadly let down. That’s what I get for expecting The Wire for VHS. Le sigh.
Don’t get me wrong. Rewind This! is a fantastic lazy Sunday documentary. It’s perfect viewing as a passing distraction. You get a tremendous amount of insight from people that were, indeed, entrenched in the VHS world. Ranging from Lloyd Kaufman to Keith Batcheller, box cover artist, there are some great and informative interviews here.
Not to mention some of the fascinating subculture surrounding VHS that has arisen. If you’ve ever owned VHS’s (and you have, nerds), you’ll cringe when two friends take a VHS out from a stack over thirty tapes tall. It’s unsettling when you hear the giant plastic “CLACK” as the tapes drop. I died shortly after watching the scene. My ghost is typing this.
But the problem with Rewind This! is the lack of cohesiveness. It’s a love letter to VHS, but little else. To wit, the real meat of the documentary, the history of the VHS, doesn’t start until 14:55 in. We spend roughly 15 minutes with VHS collectors. Interesting, yes. But it’s wasting time getting to its main points and the really interesting parts.
For instance, the porn section. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a statue of a golden penis while someone talks about the economic benefits of VHS.
Sadly, good parts do not make a good whole. Rewind This! doesn’t possess a clear through line. For me, I needed a main narrative to follow. Without it, it’s just a collection of scenes thrown together to talk about VHS. It’s a documentary with lots of things to say, but there’s never a coherent focus. Which is unfortunate because VHS has a clear beginning, middle, and end, and a nice coda with hipster buyers being interested in VHS again. But that focus never comes together in a clear fashion. One moment, you could be talking about the preservation of VHS and how much is lost and the next minute is Drew McWeeny talking about how 1984 was taken off of the Amazon Kindle due to ownership rights. Both are incredibly interesting, and I understand that you have to fill up an hour and a half of documentary. There just needed to be a little bit more focus.
If you’re looking for an easy way to spend a Sunday afternoon, definitely watch this movie.
There are a veritable cornucopia of deleted and extended scenes along with a multitude of other special features. However, the manufacturers neglected to add any kind of order to anything. A “Play All” button would have been absolutely fantastic. Look at me having first world problems, though.
A big stand-out is most definitely the deleted scene about laserdiscs. I completely understand why it was omitted, but the format and its development is fascinating. I would love a companion piece talking about this oft-forgotten piece of media. At 10 minutes though, it’s still fairly satisfying.
A peek into Everything is Terrible!, what can only be described as a performance art exhibit combined with terrible VHS videos. I’d never seen this ever before, so it was hilarious to see a throne of Jerry Maguire VHS’s on a stage. What was even more interesting was not being able to gauge the audience’s reaction. They weren’t laughing, but they weren’t not enjoying it. I know that’s terrible English, but I cannot really describe it any other way.
The commentary is very informative about the shooting, but isn’t really much more than that. First time filmmaker Josh Johnson and his compatriots are a bit too precious with the material and it shows. The commentary limits itself to various production anecdotes as opposed to expanding on the subject matter. Considering the history of VHS is so rich, I was most definitely wanting more from the commentary.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars