Year:  2022

Director:  Amy Bandlien Storkel, Bryan Storkel

Release:  September 10, 2022

Running time: 87 minutes

Worth: $17.00
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Steven J. Glew, Scott McWhinnie, Eric Leukert, Jim Blaine, Katie Chrzanowski, Kathy Glew

… an enjoyably sweet treat with enough real emotion to keep the belly aches at bay.

Stuck in a dead end factory job as a machinist in Michigan, Steve Glew had a habit of dreaming a little too big for his small town boots. A schemer, a plotter, and a collector, Glew found his opportunity to break free of his hum-drum 9 to 5 while out wandering the stalls of the local toy fair. Pez dispensers were where the real money was being made, specifically rare collectible Pez dispensers found only in Europe. With his boundless imagination in full force, what might have become a harmless side hobby for most people quickly turned into an international million-dollar operation for Glew.

With his big bushy beard, short stature, and seemingly eternal optimism, Glew is a character to behold. As Steppenwolf’s ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ plays over the candy-coloured opening credits, directors Amy Bandlien Storkel and Bryan Storkel are well aware they have a self-made man of myth at the centre of their story, and they never once fail to play up that goofy, garden gnome charm Glew works so well.

Endlessly entertaining re-enactments in which Glew plays the role of himself — who else could possibly compare? — blend reality with Glew’s fantasy world. Tales of a midwestern homebody taking a peek behind the Iron Curtain in order to lay his hands on precious rare Pez designs become indistinguishable from any Tom Clancy thriller, complete with code words and shadowy rendezvous, but with such a light-hearted and whimsical approach that you can’t fault Glew for the embellishments. He simply knows how to tell a good story.

All good stories need a villain, and “Pezident” Scott McWhinnie, then-CEO of Pez USA, plays his designated role impeccably. The Dean Wormer to Glew’s Animal House, the Richard Vernon to his Breakfast Club, McWhinnie shows up to put his foot down and bring an end to Glew’s not-exactly-illegal-but-highly-suspect shenanigans. A no-nonsense suit with an irrational hatred for collectors, McWhinnie stands as the polar opposite to everything Glew represents, and his real life attempts to shut Glew down are just about as tyrannical as anything you’d expect from fiction.

Standing as the soft-spoken voice of reason amongst the chaos, Glew’s loving and endlessly tolerant wife Kathy serves as the grounding presence tying him to reality whenever his whims threaten to overwhelm. It’s his devotion to his family tied with his impish sense of fun that make Glew the hero of this tale, despite how things might have turned out for him in the end. With a compassionate eye towards the self-titled Pez Outlaw, the Storkels serve up an enjoyably sweet treat with enough real emotion to keep the belly aches at bay.


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