To say that Taylor Morden and Zeke Kamm’s The Last Blockbuster is a nostalgia documentary is a gross understatement. If you’ve ever stepped foot in a Blockbuster video store in your life, get ready for an incredible journey into the past.
As the title implies, this is the story of the last Blockbuster located in Bend, Oregon. Long-time manager Sandi Harding runs it, and she’s on the final year of her licensing option with the Dish Network, which currently owns the franchise trademarks. We see it as the last vestige of a once corporate monolith. Harding represents a single store—a family business if you will—that hired almost every teenager in town and was the center of a community that loved watching movies. Each week Harding goes to Target and Walmart to purchase new releases, and if anyone requests a film, she’ll scour Amazon to track it down.
“…hired almost every teenager in town and was the center of a community that loved watching movies.”
Through the first half of the film, narrator Lauren Lapkus goes into the history of the chain. It was started by David Cook, who developed software services for the oil industry. When he quit the business, his wife convinced him to open a video store. With his programming background, he developed a database for tracking the store’s video catalog and rentals. This innovation allowed him to replicate other stores very quickly, and thus a chain was born. After several sales from one corporation to the next, Blockbuster grew to over 9,000 stores worldwide.
The fun of The Last Blockbuster is its rather extensive list of celebrities pining about how watching films and hanging out with other cinephiles shaped their lives and careers. These celebs include Samm Levine, James Arnold Taylor, Adam Brody, Ione Skye, Doug Benson, Paul Scheer, Kevin Smith, and many more. Comedian/actor Jamie Kennedy talks about being cast as part of Blockbuster’s “Entertainment Squad” with Jim Gaffigan and two other actresses.
"…it's all feel-good and good-feels from start to finish..."