January 28, 2023

Entertaining Movies

Entertaining Movies

The Pez Outlaw 2023 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online

The Pez Outlaw 2023 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online

    As any collector knows, scarcity breeds value. So, when collector Steve Glew boards a plane with his son to Eastern Europe seemingly days after the fall of the Berlin Wall in search of Pez dispensers, you know it must be for a big score. Directed by Amy Bandlien Storkel and Bryan Storkel, there is a lot that endears us to Steve before we are even jet-setting off across the Atlantic in search of the mythic Kolinska. Maybe it’s because the documentary starts off with a subject calling Steve “the loser” of a yet-unknown altercation, or maybe it’s because his loving wife Kathy regales us with how they “fell in lust at first sight” and how the sex is still good, or maybe it’s simply the fact that the affable Steve is so friendly, but the eponymous Pez Outlaw is astoundingly easy to root for.

    A former cereal toy collector, Steve pivoted to Pez dispensers after cereal companies got wise to his racket of mailing in multiple redemption coupons and designated them “one per household”. Yes, that was Steve’s doing (allegedly). Quickly falling in love with the colorful and various candy dispensers, this mid-Western man was soon on the hunt for the most exclusive Pez dispensers that couldn’t be found in the US. The Pez Outlaw not only has an incredibly colorful subject but also casts Steve Glew to play himself in the reenactments. Stylizing his adventures in the honor of the Tom Clancy books he enjoyed reading during his work shifts, the documentary takes an incredibly playful approach to his escapades.

    Jumping from a lonely and ominous road leading to Zagreb to the Willy-Wonka-esque Pez dispenser facility in Slovenia, the first arc of the documentary often does play out like a heist movie. Due to a mix-up in paperwork and an impressed Federal agent, Steve is able to not only visit the European factory where exclusive Pez dispensers are made but bring them into the country without any legal ramifications. Chuckling as he says, “You really can get a long way by playing dumb American,” Steve is just the right combination of self-aware and aloof to keep you on your toes.

    Opposite Steve in the ring is the giant Pez candy company. Speaking for them is Bud Damberg, the Pez marketing manager, who gives us the other side of the story. Every story needs a villain and this one puts Scott McWhinnie in that place. If Steve thought of himself as the outlaw, then the self-titled Pezident would be the sheriff trying to hunt him down. As president and CEO of Pez, it’s clear that McWhinnie is hardly the most respectable character. And when Steve starts selling those European Pez dispensers (especially designs that were rejected by McWhinnie to manufacture in the US), he becomes public enemy #1 to the company.

    The vendetta between these two is what would ultimately lead to Steve being called a “loser”. At the end of the day, Steve was one man battling an entire company. And despite the windfalls he experienced during the height of his operation, sometimes The Man wins. At the heart of any good documentary should be a more nuanced story that hinges on human emotion, and The Pez Outlaw highlights the relationship between Steve and Kathy. It’s obvious that as entertaining a Steve is to us, he could sometimes be a difficult man to be married to. She tells us that his whole journey with Pez started because she spent so many years saying no to him that she thought she should start saying yes.

    But Steve is loyal and loving, his successes fed directly into his family. Kathy is able to quit her job and follow her passion for raising horses, something that Steve is clearly very proud to have provided for her. And when Kathy is devastating diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he is at her side to help her. As a man who fundamentally changed several aspects of how Pez runs a company, he was quick to drop the obsession and focus on Kathy.

    When the factory in Kolinska is shut down, Steve eventually turns to design his own Pez dispensers. It adds to his charm that his designs were actually popular, creative, and artistic. But once again, McWhinnie swoops in and deals a devastating blow, one that paints the company in an immensely negative light in hindsight. Defeated and depressed, Steve takes a break from the world of Pez to lick his wounds. But the beauty of The Pez Outlaw is that you can’t keep down a good man, and he makes a surprising return after starting a blog about all his exploits. Becoming an almost mythic figure in the Pez world, Steve’s story concludes in the documentary on a high, with his reputation established as a figure of the Pez community (with McWhinnie merely a footnote) and still happily married to Kathy.

    An immensely enjoyable treat, The Pez Outlaw is cleverly filmed with the highlight being Glew playing himself and seemingly having the time of his life. With references to Citizen Kane and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the whimsy is part of the effortless charm of the doc, and Steve and Kathy bring the heart.

    The Pez Outlaw 2023 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online