Opening on VOD this weekend and at the Alice Gill-Sheldon Theatre in Sedona on Friday, October 28...
The PEZ Outlaw--The title character of this international thriller is a man named Steve Glew. A Gandalf-bearded former machine-shop rat from Michigan who shares a small horse farm with his soft-spoken wife Kathy, Glew was also a bit of an OCD eccentric who collected oddball cereal boxes. Bored silly with his job, he got interested in PEZ in the '80s and '90s when he was clued in, at a collector's show, that there were a great many of the candy-pushing dispensers that weren't distributed in the USA.
Beard dyed dark, Glew plays his younger self in flashback re-enactments, as he and his son travel, first, to Slovenia, and come back with duffel bags crammed with contraband PEZ and, owing to a hiccup in PEZ USA's standing with U.S. Customs, are able to import them. Soon he's making regular trips to Europe, from Hungary to PEZ headquarters in Austria, and PEZ peddling is his full-time job.
If the McGuffin being smuggled here was drugs or guns or uranium, the story wouldn't be that different from any globetrotting caper thriller. But it's PEZ, so it's freaking hilarious. Directors Amy Storkel and Brian Storkel cut between Glew and other, uhm, talking heads as they narrate the re-enactments, which are overtly facetious in tone; several scenes are done noir-style, and the plant in Slovenia is presented like Willy Wonka's factory inside. This is funny, but it's possible that a more deadpan, Errol Morris-like approach might have given the film a sharper edge.
Even so, it's wonderful, because of the visual charm of PEZ and the oddity of the collecting fanatics and the implausibility of the story, which is what makes it believable. But above all The PEZ Outlaw is wonderful because Glew seems like a fully, fearlessly self-revealed character onscreen, exasperating and lovable; when the movie takes a poignant turn in its final quarter, the emotion comes naturally.
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