When watching The Last Blockbuster you can’t help but smile the entire film. A mix of modern problems with a remaining store as well as memories blasting from the past. A sense familiarity that we share to a point where even the celebrities in the film seem like any other person you could be hashing out memories with. The blue and yellow walls and carpet. The smell of plastic, soda, popcorn, and candy. The sound of that click when you open a thick Blockbuster case and the snap when you close it. This film does an excellent job in capturing that memory.
The one thing that did bug me about this film was the editing at parts. I felt that some of the interviewer questions from behind the camera were unnecessary to hear. The first one I noticed was a question being asked and then they cut away before the answer could be given. It was given later, but it just came across as an odd choice to leave that in there. Almost like the film wasn’t finished. This happened a couple more times, but not nearly as bad. Past that though, I really enjoyed the film.
The creativity that director Taylor Morden brought to the film was very pleasing to see from a filmmakers perspective. I specifically enjoyed how he snagged the lyric rights to Smash Mouth’s All Star and sang it himself. Most people probably wouldn’t notice the difference.
Nostalgia aside, what makes this such a good documentary is the fact that Taylor caught so much of a story “in the moment.” The film starts in 2017 when there were only 12 Blockbuster stores left in the world. As the film progresses that number quickly falls to 4 and then eventually 1. At this point, the Bend Oregon store is about to have their lease end on the Blockbuster name rights and the store owners are unsure if they will be allowed to renew. We get to experience this drama with the family that runs this last store as we root for them to hold onto something that is symbolically precious to all of us.
I frequently reflect on the old Blockbuster on the street corner by my parents house. It was so big that the building is now a bagel shop, nail salon, pizza place, and a sushi restaurant. The only thing still there is an Irish Bar on the far end that I still love going to today. That Blockbuster had a lot of memories for me. I remember that they had this standing video game display where you could demo the latest Nintendo 64 game, but it was behind this zig zag maze of glass by the entrance. You could see it from the outside of the store through the window, but it was hard to get to once inside. Kind of an odd building design. Till this day, I could still walk directly to where specific rentals could be found. That’s how burned into my memory Blockbuster is. I still have a couple of DVDs I bought from them when they closed and some VHS or video games that I just never returned. My Super Star Wars on the Super Nintendo still has the Blockbuster sticker on it. It’s a sentiment that my kids will never understand unless I can find a local mom and pop that still rents movies. Long live the Bend, Oregon Blockbuster