I think I am just going to go ahead and declare July 2010 “Winnebago Man” month here on Popthomology, because as you may note I have been writing pretty copiously about my enthusiasm (and experiences via my enthusiasm, including a song and video, and an audience visit to “The Tonight Show,” for f*ck’s sake) for this film and the YouTube viral video clip that inspired it. I must be dreaming of Winnebagos and flies at night, really. I finally got to SEE the documentary at the Sunset 5 theater in fabulous Hollywoodland, California last Saturday night, introduced by none other than WM producer Joel Heller. I settled in with a water and a box of Pocky, ready to cinematically meet Jack Rebney, “The Angriest Man In The World.”

The premise of the film is pretty simple and reasonable: what’s the deal with the crazy old dude swearing on that one YouTube clip? Why is he so damn mad, above and beyond the heat of the Iowa summer, blown industrial film script lines, and a fly plague? How did this very tall man with the mellifluous old-school radio voice lose his cool so completely and in such an undeniably elegant and profane way? And, the most important question of all: what happened to him in the 20 years since his ‘Bago meltdown? It’s human nature to be curious about those people that entertain and/or confound us. “Winnebago Man” expands these questions to examine the modern phenomenon of the instant micro-celebrity, no longer the farmer who got his 15 minutes of fame by getting his picture in the local paper with his giant pumpkin. Now, it is more likely to be someone, as “Candid Camera” put it, “caught in the act of being themselves,” and most likely on the humiliating side of funny. You (and I) can watch people falling down and cars sliding on ice pretty much all day long on the internet, right? It breaks up the routine and gives us a laugh and some kind of sense of relief that “at least that wasn’t me.” But there’s a “me” behind every video, and in this case, it is Jack Rebney.

Fresh-faced teenage filmmaker Ben Steinbauer  (oh, alright, he’s in his early 30s, but he looks like Bambi to me) has enough directorial instincts, persistence, and craziness to track down the elusive Rebney to attempt to answer the movie queries, and the film takes viewers through the not-quite-smooth process of a generational and personality gap between Rebney and Steinbauer that seems at times insurmountable. You might guess, and would be correct in your guess, that “The Angriest Man In The World,” while not any kind of monster, is a bit irascible. A mite tetchy. A tad difficult. Rebney has likely isolated himself in the Northern California woods for good reasons, one of which must be his frustration in dealing with the world and people at large. Working as a broadcast journalist in the days of Murrow and Cronkite and Severeid when the reporting of the news was more of a sacred trust rather than an extended “COPS” episode honed Rebney’s sensibilities, and sharpened his distaste for the mediocre and banal. He would not be sitting with us watching “Star Wars Kid” or “Afro Ninja” on YouTube.

Yet with his superior, self-imposed hermit “get off my lawn” ways, inside Rebney there is a person who shows warmth, humor, kindness, loyalty, self-awareness, and an insatiable need to dig out the few truths in the world. It is perhaps the latter quality that pushes him to keep contact with Steinbauer; Jack is smart enough to know that he doesn’t know it all, and just open enough to take another listen to a part of the world he wrote off a long time ago. In his old age, he is willing to step out one more time to see what “Winnebago Man” is all about, which turns out in the end to be more than a very bad day caught on tape. It’s everyone’s bad day, and the voice everyone sometimes wishes they had. And it’s really really f*cking funny.

Do me a kindness, will ya? See “Winnebago Man” in a theater near you, or like me, in a theater not near you at all. It’s fun, thought-provoking, and takes you from an RV lot to a YouTube hit to a documentary worth your patronage. Go go go, you g*dd*mn j*ck*sses! Just don't sit next to the pumpkin farmer. He smells like fertilizer.