Unravelling the Rental Reviews Lore (Part 1 of ???)

 As we all know, Jimmy Rolfe is one heck of a filmmaker.  He planted seeds of a story throughout Rental Reviews.  Just little teasers for the fans to try to decode.  I’m going to try to unpack it.  There are 101 episodes to get through so let’s not waste any more time.


They review Commando in the first episode.  

0:00 – The intro establishes that this takes place in Cinemassacre Video, an old school video rental store.  They rent the “newest releases” but the films they show are Austin Powers (1997), Scream (1996), and Beavis & Butthead Do America (1996).  And they’re all in VHS format.

They also rent “the hottest video games” and the games on display are the NES games Battletoads, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I think), and a third game that I’m unable to identify.  

Laserdisc is also available.  Jurassic Park (1993), Terminator 2 (1991), and Dracula (1931) are the films that I can identify.  

Pornography can also be acquired here but no titles are shown.

The store is located in the Voorhees Memorial Shopping Center, next to Caldor.  Vorhees is a reference to Jason Vorhees, presumably.  Caldor is a defunct department store found in the American Northeast.  It was in business from 1951 to 1999.

We know that Jimmy is a big fan of horror so I think that this Vorhees Memorial Shopping Center is important.  Unfortunately, I’ve never seen any of the movies.  

According to the internet, Jason Vorhees died at the age of 11.  This may or may not play a role in this whole thing.

Another thing that we know is that Jimmy likes time-travel.  They describe the films as the “newest releases”.  The movies shown are from 1996 and 1997.  I may be wrong but I don’t think that any film shown in this intro is any more recent than 1997.  

I’m going to suggest that Rental Reviews takes place in 1997.  Is time travel actually involved or is this just a period piece?  I’m not sure yet.

1:00 – James is on the phone, an old school landline, and telling a customer that he or she is approximately 7,000 days past due.  Presumably, he’s talking about an overdue movie or video game.  7,000 days is a little over 19 years.  That would place the opening of Cinemassacre Video to at least 1978.  

According to Wikipedia, the first video rental shop was Video Station, which opened in December 1977.  So this all works.  Cinemassacre Video is one of the first video rental shops in the world.

1:15 – Kieran enters the store to return his copy of Commando.  

Hold the phone.  Justin is also in the store but he’s wearing a Too Many Games shirt.  Too Many Games is a nerd convention which was first held in 2004.  How would he get a shirt from 2004 back in 1997?  

Justin is clearly a time traveller.  

2:15 – Jimmy is talking about how if aliens came to earth and wanted to know about movies, he would show them Commando.  He goes on to say, “This movie doesn’t have time travel.”  And as he’s saying this, it’s a shot of only Justin and Jimmy.  

Is this confirming my theory that Justin is a time-traveller or is Jimmy Rolfe (the director) using Jimmy Rolfe (the actor) to send the message that there ISN’T time travel in Rental Reviews?  

The most obvious explanation for the Rental Reviews lore is that it takes place in then-contemporary 2018.  But then why would the intro state that the latest releases are films from circa 1997?  Why would there be a video rental store that only rents movies and games from 25 years ago, using obsolete formats?  That’s not a viable business model.  Is Jimmy independently wealthy and running this store at a loss?  Why would he have any customers at all?  Is everybody insane?  

No, I’m sticking with time travel.  Jimmy Rolfe (the director) is known for making films that explore time travel.  Although, he does explore the theme of insanity in The Head Returns.  Now I’m not so sure.

33:30 – Jimmy answers the phone.  He says, “No, only laserdisc and VHS.  Okay.”

Obviously, somebody was enquiring about the formats available at the shop.  But were they asking for beta (which would support the Justin as time traveller theory) or DVD (which would support the insanity theory)?  

That’s the first episode.  Yeah, there are definitely layers here.  Let’s see if the next episode helps elucidate matters.


Mac and Me.  The movie about McDonalds and aliens.  Another aliens reference.

It starts off with Jimmy showing Mike “all the classics” and then shows Mike three VHS movies: Blockbuster Presents: Halloween (1995), Blockbuster Classics: Night of the Living Dead (unknown release date), and Bigfoot & Witches (1996).

If this takes place in 1997, why would Jimmy refer to movies from 1995 and 1996 as “classics”?  Bigfoot & Witches is clearly not a good film so maybe it was just like a joke.  He was being sarcastic.

0:45 – Tony enters with a bag of McDonalds.  The bag is clearly empty.  Then he picks up a can of Coke that belongs to Jimmy and asks if he can have some.  Jimmy agrees.  The can is clearly empty.  Maybe they are insane.  Maybe this is some kind of a dream.  I don’t know.

By the way, I’m not exploring the actual reviews.  When they’re reviewing the movie, that’s just them reviewing the movie.  They’re not “in character” for that.  So when Justin makes a reference to, for example, a blu-ray from 2017, that’s just him talking.  It’s not part of the lore.  Only the skits are part of the lore.

37:30 – Tony says that he’s going to go to Sears.  

Hmm.  On to episode 3: Surf Ninjas.


It starts with Mike reading a magazine called Shadowland.  Mike asks where he gets these from.  Jimmy says that they (the publishers, presumably) sent it to him and that he’s actually in that issue.


Jimmy Rolfe was in issue #5 of Shadowland, which was released in 2012.  So now we know that Jimmy is also a time traveller.

But to what end?  What’s their goal?  And why isn’t Mike shocked to read a magazine from 2012 in 1997?  Is he also a time traveller?  Why doesn’t he express surprise at any of this?  He must at least know that Jimmy is a time traveller.  Or maybe he’s just numb from shock.

28:45 – Tony gets up to leave but doesn’t seem to be moving to where the exit is located.  Mike says that he (Tony) is actually going to the porn section.  1997 porn stars, we’re talking about Jenna Jameson, Jenteal, Silvia Saint.  Will this somehow feature in the lore?  

Is Tony also a time traveller?  And his motivation for traveling back in time is solely to get pornography that’s no longer widely available in 2018?  We know that Tony likes pornography.  More than most men.  So it’s plausible.  


Nothing of note happened in the next few episodes but in this episode, The Time Machine is playing on the tv in the background.  No.  I’m convinced now.  Time travel is involved.

And it’s not just James and Justin.  Tony is wearing a Polybius t-shirt.  Aside from the awful AVGN episode, this is an urban legend dating from about the year 2000.  So Tony is definitely a time-traveller too.  

26:15 – Justin leaves to go to the porn section.  Tony says, “Why do people keep going to the adult section?”

Maybe they’re going back in time to get 1997 era porn and then they’re going to sell it in 2018.  They’d probably have make a digital copy and sell it electronically because few people would want VHS porn in 2018.  But there’s a lot of porn from back in the day, that’s long out of print, that isn’t on the free sites and might not even be on the pay sites.  So there’s money to be made.

But can this really be the lore?  Time travelling pornographers?  


This one starts off with Kieran approaching the store but the lights are off and nobody is in.  

Then we cut to Justin, Jimmy, and Tony in a Predator costume in a movie theatre.  Justin says that they’re not going to start stocking blu-rays.  Well, obviously.  That would look really suspicious in 1997.

Then Jimmy says, “We just watched The Predator (2018).

So they obviously travelled to 2018 for this episode.  And they did it without Kieran because Kieran is one of the few characters who isn’t a time-traveller.  At least not yet.  The story is still unfolding.

19:15 – Newt enters and asks Justin if he was “bootlegging the movie”.  Justin has a 1997 era camcorder.  

So they’re making money in both directions of time travel, which is smart.  They make bootleg copies of contemporary (2018) films and then go back to 1997 to sell them.  Even a shitty movie from 2018 would impress audiences in 1997 in terms of special effects and whatnot.  Then on the return journey, they take porn from 1997, encode it, and sell it on one of these sites where you can buy old porn movies for $10 or whatever it is.  


They review Starship Troopers in this one.  They also do an ad for a wooden watch.  And during the skits, they mention the word “time” a lot.  They’re running out of time and whatnot.  They emphasise the word “time”.  So Jimmy is just driving the point home that they’re time travellers.


Event Horizon.  But the intro is weird.  They changed it.  It’s like security tape footage and the tape is broken.

Wait…the date on the security camera is 06/06/06.  So…this episode takes place in 2006, I guess.  

There’s a scene where Justin peeks out from the porn section.  He’s obviously back there collecting tapes to be sold in the present.

27:00 – It’s the same weird security camera footage that we saw in the beginning.  On the tv in the background, there’s close up image of a guy’s face and he’s saying, “I’m at the Vorhees Memorial Shopping Center next to Caldoor.  He won’t let us leave.”

I’m thinking that Justin, who we saw earlier peeking from the adult section, is holding a man captive back there and they’re making gay BDSM porn to then be sold in the present day.  And this took place somewhere between the years 1997 and 2006.  Or maybe he was there the whole time and we just didn’t know about it.  This is a shocking turn of events.


Star Trek V.  It starts with a bunch of “Youtubers” and whatnot, including Johanna, asking for a copy of Star Trek V.  Erin is also in this.  This might get freaky.  Are any of these people going to become the next victim of Justin’s time travelling porn enterprise?

1:30 – Jimmy shows a little cardboard advertisement of the movie that depicts Captain Kirk, from Star Trek V, holding the movie Star Trek V.  And Jimmy says, “It just blows your mind.”  Mike says, “It’s a paradox.”  Tony says, “Star Trek, there are so many parallel dimensions, maybe Kirk travelled to a dimension where Star Trek V had just come out on VHS and he’s like, ‘Holy shit, I remember when this happened to me.  In this universe, it’s a movie.  That’s insane.”

So now Jimmy is introducing the concept of parallel dimensions.  This is Jimmy’s style.  He just throws everything into his movies.  Every idea he can think of.  

Maybe that gay BDSM stuff from the previous episode was a parallel universe.  Because it was really out of place.  That was also the Halloween episode.  So it’s sort of like the Simpsons where the Halloween episodes aren’t canon.  

33:00 – Jimmy says, “Scotty, four to beam up” and Tony, Justin, Mike, and Jimmy are transported ala Star Trek.  

I don’t even know.  Is this another parallel universe?  Why does Jimmy have to make everything so complicated?  Just make a simple story about people hanging out in a video rental store.  Not this fucking time travel and gay porn and parallel universe shit.


1:00 – Kieran is talking to Tony and he’s depressed because he owes Jimmy hundreds of dollars in overdue tape charges.  “I just wish there was a fast, easy way to make money right now.”

Oh no.  Don’t do this.  It’s an ad but what’s obviously being implied is that Kieran, the only one who isn’t a time-traveller (and possibly Mike) is going to take part in Justin’s disgusting gay porn time travelling exploits.  So Kieran is going to have sex with that gimp who we saw in an earlier episode, Justin is going to film it, and then Justin is going to travel to the present day to sell the video on the internet.

Or was Kieran the gimp all along?  Because there’s nothing to say that this is all happening in sequence.  They’re time travellers.  The timeline can be anything.  

This is backed up by the numbering sequence of these Rental Reviews videos.  As below:

Episode 91: 12 October 2018

Episode 90: 2 November 2018

Episode 89: 26 October 2018

They jump back and forward in time.  And to make things even more confusing, everything is numbered in reverse.  The first episode of Rental Reviews is episode 101, the second episode is 100, and so on until you get to the final episode, which is episode 1.  

Jimmy is clearly playing with the concept of time travel.  I’ve never seen anything like this.  Very innovative.

1:45 – Kieran says, “I’ll pay off my rental fees in no TIME”.  Jimmy then pulls out a baseball bat and says, “You better get cracking on those surveys before I get cracking on your kneecaps.”

So Jimmy is in on this.  Jimmy is in on this whole gay porn time travel thing.  “Surveys” is a codeword for “gay porn”.  

I’m not sure what role Tony has because he’s in this scene and he appears to be scared of James, just like Kieran is.  Maybe he’s afraid that Jimmy is going to turn on him and make him start doing gay porn too.


They’re reviewing Halloween (2018), which obviously is going to raise some questions.  And again, these videos are all out of sequence.  

We’re back to the security camera footage.  Justin sneaks in.  He takes the bubble gum dispenser and walks off.  What is he going to do with that?  Oh god.  Jimmy is a sick fuck.

Wait…what?  I just noticed that the camera has the date 10/19/2018.  So…this is in the present day.  It makes sense since they’re reviewing a (then) current movie.  But is Kieran still being held captive?  

No, in the next scene we see Tony, Jimmy, and Kieran in a parking lot at night.  Tony says. “Well, we just saw another brand new movie and got it on VHS for everyone at the store.”

Yeah.  This is following from earlier on when we established that they’re going to the present day, making bootleg copies of current movies, and then selling them in 1997.

Tony says, “This is the same tape that I used in 2001 to record Halloween VI off cable”.  Just more time travel references.

Kieran, holding a 1997 camcorder, clearly nervous, and stumbling over his words, says, “You know, for all of the money that you’re selling these bootleg tapes for, this $8,000 state-of-the-art camcorder is going to pay for itself in no time.”

So is Kieran no longer being forced to make gay porn by 2018 (the present)?  Or is he still making the porn but after years of captivity, he’s identified with his captors and they’ve allowed him a degree of freedom?  

28:30 – Tony asks an off-screen passer-by if he wants to buy the bootleg Halloween tape that he was holding.

I think that I should stop here for now.  This is some crazy shit.  And we’re not even at the point where that weird Indian or whatever guy comes in.  The landlord.  This is just the first 15 episodes.  They’re merely setting up the universe at this point.

Oh my god.  Time traveling gay pornographers, Kieran being forced to make BDSM porn for at least nine years, alternate universes.  What the fuck was James thinking with this?  

Still…it’s different.  This is what the AVGN Movie should have been about. 

2 thoughts on “Unravelling the Rental Reviews Lore (Part 1 of ???)

  1. I don't know if it's just me, but i find old porn videos unappealing. that faded look typical of pictures made with a low resolution compared to today's standards is sort of depressing. i've always found women better looking in mainstream movies anyway. anything made on a low budget doesn't do them any favours. on the other hand, porn made nowadays is atrocious and offputting: the women are ugly and terrible at pretending to enjoy their own debasement. ok the last part is understandable. but the director is apparently happy with the whole arrangement as it's enough to lure the desired number of viewers in. it's just that I'm not an ideal consumer for this kind of product

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