VHYes: Don’t Tape Over Important VHS Tapes!

Courtney Pauroso as Vicky (l) and Thomas Lennon as Tony V (r), hosts of The Goods Channel in Jack Henry Robbins' VHYes. Photo by Nate Gold. © Oscilloscope Laboratories.

VHYes certainly brings back the nostalgia by taking us back to a time when television viewing was very different in a pre-digital era.

To say that they don’t make films like they used to would not be an understatement.  When was the last time that you watched a VHS tape let alone filmed anything on cassette?  Don’t answer that.  It’s a rhetorical question.  While most films are shot in digital in this era, VHYes goes yard for some old-school storytelling.

Writer-director Jack Henry Robbins expands on Sundance short films Painting with Joan and Hot Winter.  The premise alone makes for some storytelling decisions that will be hit-or-miss with audiences.  Honestly, the film isn’t a traditional narrative with regards to what viewers are used to watching.  VHYes also isn’t an outright sketch comedy either because of the tape’s structure.  Kerri Kenney-Silver reprises her role as Joan.

Ralph () is just short of becoming a teenager.  He manages to commit the cardinal sin that is recording over his parents’ wedding tape.  All because of receiving a camcorder for the holidays.  Funny enough, the present comes at a moment in time when his parents’ marriage is in turmoil.  One can only hope that there’s another copy lying around because he does enough damage to get grounded for all of eternity.  What Ralph ends up doing is shoot his own home videos and record late night shows.  When we aren’t watching his home videos, VHYes features a mix of channel surfing.  As you could easily guess, there is at least one home shopping show because it wouldn’t be the 1980s without one!

The film is rather short at just over 70 minutes in length.  Again, it’s not the traditional film.  One could say that the feature is experimental in nature.  At the same time, Jack Henry Robbins offers some commentary on our current era.  You know–the culture that watches so many YouTube videos.  Look at what we can do with our cell phones.  Minus the taping over of videos, Ralph is documenting his day no differently than we do right now.  It isn’t just YouTube but Instagram offers much of the same type of documenting.

While Robbins surely has something to say about today’s culture, everything in VHYes has to connect in one way or another.  One can only imagine what the editing process was like especially with the channel surfing.

DIRECTOR:  Jack Henry Robbins
SCREENWRITERS:  Nunzio Randazzo and Jack Henry Robbins
CAST:  Mason McNulty, Rahm Berkshaw, Kerri KAenney, Charlyne Yi, Courtney Pauroso, Thomas Lennon, and Mark Proksch

Oscilloscope Laboratories opens VHYes on January 17, 2020. Grade: 3/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.