[MOVIE REVIEW] Make it a Blockbuster night… on Netflix

Documentary on final Blockbuster location is heartwarming and nostalgic



The last remaining Blockbuster is in Bend, Oregon. The Last Blockbuster follows store manager Sandi Harding and her “Blockbuster family” as she runs the store.

Liv Larsen, RubicOnline

Most of Minnesota’s Blockbuster video rental stores closed around 2009 to 2012. By 2018, four stores remained, three in Alaska and one in Oregon. Today, the last Blockbuster in business is in Bend, Oregon. A relic of the long-forgotten video rental industry. On Mar. 15, The Last Blockbuster was added to Netflix, the site widely regarded as the reason for Blockbuster’s downfall (though that fact is contested in the documentary by former C.F.O, Tom Casey).  A documentary chronicling the meteoric rise and even faster fall of the franchise that once had over 9,000 locations across the country, The Last Blockbuster is bittersweet but full of heart.

The documentary follows store manager Sandi Harding and her “Blockbuster family” as she runs the store and details both her personal connection to the store and its relationship to the community of Bend. While the story includes a host of interviews from all kinds of actors, directors, voice actors, and other people in the film industry, the documentaries’ real heart and shine all come from Harding’s devotion to the store and the community she has created through it.

There’s no way this is a very profitable business right?

From a business standpoint, it’s hard to understand Harding’s commitment to this store. There’s no way this is a very profitable business right? Few people have DVD players nowadays and VHS players are even less prominent. But nostalgia can be a powerful feeling. In addition, many people argue the physical copy of the movie, the feeling of browsing the aisles, and only being able to choose a select few movies makes the viewing experience more special. The documentary shows people from San Diego, Utah, and even Spain, who travelled all the way to Bend just to visit Harding’s Blockbuster. While some view it as inconvenient in an age of digital streaming, others admire Harding’s store for preserving a more traditional movie viewing experience.

Because of her role in maintaining the world’s last Blockbuster, Harding is now famous both in Bend and across the country. She has lost track of how many interviews she has had, but guesses it’s around 500 from CNN to ABC News. But it’s never been about fame for her. The documentary follows her waking up early and driving to Target to buy new releases and cases of candy for the store. One regular customer notes how if there is ever a movie someone wants that isn’t available, Harding will go out and buy it as soon as possible. This is about the community and the small interactions that happen when someone comes into the store looking for a video.

The Last Blockbuster is a heartwarming and informative look at Blockbuster and the US’s transition to streaming services. The story will obviously be thoroughly enjoyable for 90s nostalgics, but even someone like me who only has one memory of ever going to a video rental store will find it entertaining. The documentary is streaming on Netflix, but if you want the real viewing experience, head to Bend and you can rent a copy for just $3.99. As always, be kind, rewind.

The original image can be found at Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons.