Judge Ike Oden's jelly belly brings him great regret, too.
A sweet n' sour look at the American dream.
Award winning doc director Costa Botes (Forgotten Silver) brings us into the dark side of the confectionary industry with Candy Man: The David Klein Story. Botes' film charts the rise and fall of Klein, a quirky, big-hearted candy inventor that conjured the concept of Jelly Belly jellybeans only to sell off his rights to the company for a paltry sum in 1980 and be stricken from company's history. With the help of his friends (including UHF star "Weird" Al Yankovic) and family, David Klein's heartbreaking and inspirational story is finally told.
Candy Man is a great documentary that manages to be funny and sad, but never at the expense of its subject. If you're looking for a freak show feature like Crumb or any reality show currently airing on TLC, look somewhere else. Costa Botes' film doesn't revel in the weirdness of David Klein, but celebrates his creativity and vivacity, putting him up there with some of the most likeable documentary protagonists of all time. You'll grow to like the guy so fast and so much that it makes the film's more tragic turn of events hurt all the more.
Klein's family (particularly son Bert Klein, a well-respected animator in his own right) dominates the telling of his decline into obscurity. The tragedy of Klein is not in the fact that he allowed himself to be pushed out of a billion dollar empire, but in the fact that he never got the credit he rightly deserved. Where Klein's friends, family, and even the documentary itself fixates on the millions upon millions of dollars Klein potentially lost. Yet money is fleeting for Klein, a man so charitable that he rents out ice cream trucks to give out free treats on his birthday. He yearns for recognition for his vision of Jelly Belly. Instead, Botes' Candy Man sees Klein's candy innovation lost to a corporate empire.
Candy Man definitively sets the record books straight on Klein, though without the input of representatives from Jelly Belly's corporation (Botes was declined an interview), the tale is more than a little one-sided. Despite a singular perspective, Candy Man presents an argument that's impossible not to go along with—Klein continues to make new and different novelty candy's to this day, achieving varying amounts of success to boot.
If there is one bit of manipulation I don't abide in Candy Man, it is that the film's editing makes it end on something of a down note. I clearly sympathize with Klein as an inventor and individual, but have a hard time mustering feelings of financial loss for a guy who appears to live as comfortably and as he does. He may have gone from a real-live Willy Wonka to an average candy maker, but, really, most of us would kill to be Willy Wonka for any amount of time. One can only hope that the documentary gives Klein and his family some sort of emotional closure on his story.
Candy Man comes to us courtesy of IndiePix, who put together another fine DVD here. The picture looks very clear for a low-budget documentary. The stereo track accompanying it is perfectly adequate.
The extras really shine, with over 25 minutes of deleted scenes just as compelling as the film itself, and two audio commentary tracks. The first, with Costa Botes, is an average director's commentary, plumbing the origin of the documentary and extra context to the footage shown, though with some over description. The second track, featuring David and Bert Klein, is a gem of a track, one that's so fast, so funny, and so entertaining that it almost rivals the film itself. If the ending of Candy Man left you with a slightly sour taste in your mouth, this track makes for a pitch perfect palette cleanser.
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