A common refrain heard today is anybody can make a movie. This is usually an overreaction based on advancing technology and platforms like YouTube. In reality, it is simply easier to create video content now than it has ever been before. While VHYes uses older recording techniques, it does beg the question, can anybody make a movie?
In the year 1987, a young boy named Ralph discovers the family’s camcorder can record straight off of television. VHYes is a collection of these individual segments recorded on a video cassette. The movie is not a sketch show, however. It is literally a movie about a child going through television channels.
Movies with a different skits are not new. There have also been films about channel surfing. The only way to make this type of story work is if there is a central idea to tie all the seemingly random threads together. Obviously, there is going to be a good amount of meandering. Still, there should be an overarching plot.
Unfortunately, director Jack Henry Robbins’s (son of actors Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon) movie does not have that foundation. The entire premise of the film is Ralph flipping through channels. Sometimes, he will tune back to something he has previously watched, which does succeed in providing more context. This is the extent of VHYes’s storytelling.
Unsurprisingly, these are the moments the movie works best. Painting with Joan is a Bob Ross style art show with a hilarious punchline. There is also an antique show that is given time to develop. It makes sporadic appearances throughout and is funny each time. The highlight is a public access show hosted by a young music fan. While not long, its characters are allowed to develop. The bit comes off so natural that some may even wonder if it is real.
It is regrettable that so much of VHYes is pointless. Many skits lack a joke and just end. Various commercials for a home security system is played a few times. Each time it just sort of trails off. Some of the segments are obviously meant to appeal to the nostalgia of the audience. While this may work initially, having the entire movie rely on it makes the whole endeavor more annoying than anything else.
It is clear that Robbins was trying to deliver a message with VHYes. The overabundance of content and the attraction of filming everything are ideas people still grapple with today. When the movie is not random, it is actually very topical. Themes are touched on, but ultimately nothing is impactful enough to matter. It is a shame Robbins was unable to reign himself in.
VHYes has a fun premise with some standout moments. Some of the comedy will produce genuine laughs while other moments will elicit wistful nostalgia. In between all the good, there is a lot of randomness that will make the film a difficult watch for some. Can anybody make a movie? Yes, but that does not mean they should.