Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Redbox—the DVD rental kiosks located at many grocery and convenient stores—altered my perception of a movie’s value. Back in the day I would rent movies at Blockbuster for close to $5 and not think twice. With the Blockbuster Rewards program, I could rent a new release Monday-Wednesday and rent an old movie for free. I did that so often that I ran out of older movies I wanted to see.

I purchased the DVD of films that I really enjoyed, because if I watched them three times then I already reached the value of a one-time rental. On Black Friday I would splurge on $4-5 DVD sales because they were the same price as a rental. I own some that I’ve never even watched. Over the years I collected well over 200 DVDs.

After my transplant, JD and I walked to Blockbuster seemingly every day, except when we registered for a two-week Netflix free trial. We received our first batch of three movies, watched them all in one day, and then shipped them back for three more. Blockbuster provided our intermittent fix.

A couple years ago I discovered Redbox and was hooked—$1 movie rentals, with the more-than-occasional free promo code. You can check online for a specific kiosk’s movie inventory, and even reserve movies by credit card. Suddenly, the cost to watch a new movie fell from $5 to $1 (not including Netflix, where the cost varies based on the speed of your mail courier and how many movies you watch).

I loved Redbox and told everyone about it. I told them about InsideRedbox.com, which used to provide free promo codes every Monday. I have one credit card and one debit card, and I used the promo code for each. Redboxes began popping up everywhere and I was overjoyed to be one of the early adopters.

During our second of five snows this winter, I drove to the Redbox inside Giant. I had reserved The Hurt Locker online, and was planning on renting several others. But, the machine was out of order. I then slipped and slid my way to 7-11 and it, too, wasn’t functioning.

Two weeks ago, during our fifth snow storm, when the wind gusts were up to 50 miles per hour and the snow punishing my face, I walked .2 miles to 7-11. Redbox: inoperable. I then walked .6 miles back the other way to a different 7-11. Redbox: inoperable. If it wasn’t for the Dr. Pepper Cherry and Snyder’s white chocolate-covered pretzels that I purchased, my trek back home would have been an angry one. I wrote a negative e-mail to Redbox informing them that the company is on a downhill trend, expecting free movies or maybe free chocolate-covered pretzels, but did not receive a response.

And then, Saturday night, I drove to a different 7-11. Redbox: you guessed it. It is times like that I nearly give up on my beloved Redbox. And then I rent five movies for $5.25 (after tax) at a different Redbox that actually works and I regain my adoration.

  1. Extract: very funny. Well done.
  2. The Goods: even funnier, but beyond stupid.
  3. The Soloist: good story, very good acting, a bit slow.
  4. Law Abiding Citizen: great action, gets confusing who is the good guy and who the bad guy.
  5. Observe and Report: Really, Seth Rogen?

Clean up your shit, Redbox.


Food for thought in which I’m probably dead wrong and definitely offensive: In The Soloist, Jamie Foxx plays a mentally ill homeless man. Unlike cancer, at least as far as I know, mental illnesses, such as bipolar and schizophrenia, don’t directly cause death. Do we call these mental illnesses simply because those afflicted don’t have normal brain function, behave like most people, or are unable to fit in society? Is it possible that instead of being diseased, those afflicted are actually gifted, with unique abilities most others don’t have? And we call them diseased because it’s easier to categorize them that way?


jennrubenstein said...

i'm a former redbox fan who recently discovered netflix (i know, i'm way late to this party) - and while my queue is full of movies, the dvds i actually have ready to be watched are from a tv series i never watched but should have. i've been watching movies streaming online on the netflix site - which definitely saved me during the blizzard, since there was no mail delivered on the day i was supposed to get 2 new discs in the mail!

Benjamin Rubenstein said...

Better stock up again, because we might be getting five or more inches of snow tomorrow night.