“The Pez Outlaw” is a candy and snappy real-life sweet caper

Pop tradition at the moment has an insatiable starvation for scammers and schemers, oddballs hustling their solution to tables the place they’re not supposed to sit down, utilizing implies that play hopscotch backwards and forwards over the authorized line. And whereas we might have overstuffed ourselves with the likes of “Tiger King,” “Inventing Anna, “Bad Vegan” and extra (I personally want a one-year hiatus from something involving the phrase “wire transfer”) you’ll wish to avoid wasting room for the candy little deal with that’s “The Pez Outlaw.”

Serving because the 2022 Milwaukee Film Festival’s opening evening decide, Amy Bandlien and Bryan Storkel’s low-stakes, high-personality documentary charmer effortlessly sates one’s candy tooth for schemery – and with out the bloat or dangerous aftertaste of its brethren.

“The Pez Outlaw” introduces viewers to Steve Glew, a seemingly unassuming small-town Michigan horse farmer hiding an unbelievable backstory below his lengthy white beard: Throughout the ’90s, Glew made tons of of 1000’s of {dollars} as a Pez dispenser desperado, trafficking duffle luggage of uncommon sweet holsters over the Atlantic and thru loopholes in customs – a lot to the chagrin of Pez’s U.S. headquarters.

Looking extra like a backyard gnome than a global smuggling mastermind, Glew is strictly the form of topic documentarians dream of discovering – even earlier than he started his profession in company Pezpionage. Rehashing his story with heat and wacky enthusiasm – a lot so he performs his youthful self within the doc’s zippy reenactments – Glew explains how he obtained his begin as a promotions division irritant. You see, years prior, he put his compulsive thoughts towards hoarding cereal box-top giveaways and promoting his wares at collector conventions. You understand how the offers now say one per buyer? That fantastic print was Glew’s doing, he proudly proclaims in one in all his many partaking speaking head interviews – matched solely by his important different Kathy, enlivening the exhausted-but-supportive spouse trope with excellent droll comedian supply. 

The Glews – together with the remainder of the quirky gamers on each company and amassing sides of the saga – are pleasant storytellers, full with a pleasant story to inform. Steve’s Pez smuggling gig finally ends up enjoying like some kind of Willy Wonka spy sport full with its personal nefarious Slugworth-like nemesis: the Pez U.S. head honcho, who plots a vendetta towards Glew’s victimless and petty gambit. There’s a brutal message tucked into the small-town smuggler’s story about how the wealthy and company world will decimate anybody who dares to play their sport or make a cent they don’t management – however “The Pez Outlaw” doesn’t let itself get weighed down by that or something a lot for that matter.

That’s in all probability for one of the best. The doc’s lightness and brisk sugary buzz – particularly in comparison with its typically overwrought and over-long streaming counterparts – is a refreshing change of tempo. After all, that is, as one rival Pez collector says early on, “a movie about a loser” with modest stakes at most. It’s a narrative the place folks in entrance of partitions lined in youngsters’ toys speak sternly about “the Pez community” and communicate in hushed reverent tones a couple of uncommon (and ugly) “Bubbleman” dispenser, the place a grown man hides in his secretive Keebler-esque treehouse of Pez memorabilia and the place the massive company villain is called “the Pezident.” Light is true for “The Pez Outlaw,” going full energetic leisure – and succeeding. 

Glew’s story by itself, competently informed, can be pleasing sufficient. Merely listening to folks speak about acquiring high-quality contraband “product” – as if they’re in an episode of “Narcos” … however about clinky plastic sweet elevators – is a hoot as is. Married administrators Amy Bandlien and Bryan Storkel, nonetheless, put within the further effort to make the amusing most out of their materials. 

The two actually shine with their reenactments, revealing a bonus inventive visible wit to go together with the now-expected trendy doc polish. Like “The Imposter” with a lighter tone, the speaking head interviews typically cleverly mix into the dramatized model of actuality; the Pez CEO’s massive purple rejection stamp, as an illustration, comically takes on Glew’s commentary, “Rejected” changing into “This is stupid” and different tossed-off variations of “bad.” The directorial duo additionally play hilarious homage to all of the genres and flicks referenced in Glew’s oddly cinematic sweet crime concoction – a bit splash of whimsical Willy Wonka coloration when he first positive factors entry inside a Pez manufacturing unit, a bit black-and-white spy noir whereas searching down alleys for a lead on discover one of the best “product.” Even Glew’s obsession with Tom Clancy will get a cameo, our lead actually escaping from a dreary shift at his day job due to a quick “Rainbow Six”-like raid sequence. These impressed moments present simply the correct quantity of heightened cinematic kookiness to go with its very kooky saga.

Ironically, with all these massive stylistic swings, it is truly one of many movie’s smaller and easier touches that, on uncommon event, will nudge the humor or quirk a bit too far: During some interviews, on a very enjoyable reveal or goofy line, the administrators will often push the digicam in or zoom on their topic. It’s pointless highlighting our already daring story and storytellers do not require. Also, by the third act, the sugar excessive of “The Pez Outlaw” can put on off just a bit, the vitality waning proper as Glew’s facet hustle does the identical. But basically, the doc hits an very best brilliant and buzzy vibe with out overdoing it, foolish and candy with out inflicting cavities.  

Speaking to the opening evening crowd after Thursday’s competition screening, Amy Bandlien and Bryan Storkel famous that they’re at the moment buying the film for distribution – a search that shouldn’t take lengthy contemplating how enjoyable their movie is. (Netflix, I do know cash’s all of a sudden tight however … come on.) I might even see it as a excellent candidate for a shiny Hollywood adaptation. But then once more, the Storkels and “The Pez Outlaw” just about obtained it proper the primary time.

“The Pez Outlaw”: *** out of ****

“The Pez Outlaw” will display once more on the 2022 Milwaukee Film Festival at 3:15 p.m. on the Oriental Theatre on Friday, April 22. 

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