Set in 1990, Rent-A-Pal centers around a lonely bachelor named David (Brian Landis Folkins) searching for an escape from the day-to-day drudgery of caring for his aging mother (Kathleen Brady). While seeking a partner through a video dating service, he discovers a strange VHS tape called Rent-A-Pal. Hosted by the charming and charismatic Andy (Wil Wheaton), the tape offers him much-needed company, compassion, and friendship. But, Andy’s friendship comes at a cost, and David desperately struggles to afford the price of admission.
Writer/Director, Jon Stevenson, came up with the seed of the story while browsing Reddit. He came across a very strange video on the internet: an old VHS tape called, “Rent-A-Friend.” Hosted by an enigmatic yet charismatic “Sam,” Rent-A-Friend offered entertainment, advice, and most importantly, friendship, to lonely people in a pre-digital age. “Who would watch this?!” Stevenson asked himself. The answer to that question would ultimately become the story of Rent-A-Pal.
Once the three leads were cast, the filmmakers needed to solve the final piece of the puzzle: Who would play Andy? Rent-A-Pal’s version of the enigmatic yet charismatic host. Stevenson wanted a household name who was popular in the late ’80s/early ’90s, particularly someone known for being very friendly and approachable. This would help the audience, as well as David, instantly connect to the weird idea of the Rent-A-Pal tape and hopefully, become entranced by it as David does. Stevenson, Baker, and Weber tossed around a number of names but all three had one choice in mind: Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: Next Generation.)
Rent-A-Pal Opens in theaters and VOD on September 11.