CANDY MAN

CANDY MAN

By Gary "Butterfingers" Murray

Starring David Klein, Weird Al Yankovic and a bunch of candy

Directed by Costa Botes

Running time 76 min

MPAA Rating: Not Rated (PG at most)

Selig Film Rating: FULL PRICE

Jelly Belly candies seemed to appear on the planet, just there in a vacuum on the sweets isle. Everyone knew that they were Ronald Reagan's favorite treat and very hard to get in the early days. Now they are everywhere. The story of how the little beans came to be a world wide phenomenon is the story of the fascinating documentary Candy Man.

The movie Candy Man starts with a single man, David Klein, and a vision. He was a law student who still had a childlike passion for sweet treats. To pay his way through law school, he sold specialty popcorn out of the back of his car. He knew that someday he would be in the candy business, even though no one in his family was in the candy business.

David Klein's biggest claim to fame is that he is the unknown inventor of Jelly Belly jellybeans. He also became the face of the product, appearing on television, promoting the treat. David does all the silly bits for the chat shows, pushing himself as much as pushing his candies. He is also the biggest victim of his own success. The story of Candy Man is also a story of greed and bad decisions

Many interviewed for the film see David as a genius, mostly with praises from family and friends. David does have a tilted view of the world. He makes all his notes on paper plates because regular scraps of paper will be thrown away, but a note on a paper plate won't. He is constantly working, trying to come up with more ideas and different candy. He basically is the real life Willy Wonka. We see his Jelly Belly product go from eight flavors sold in an ice cream shop to becoming part of the culture.

The story is also of lawyers and money, the downside of success. David and his partner are confronted by the contracted manufacturer of the product. The resolution is shocking and somber, where doing the right thing and doing the correct thing are not parallel.

In many ways, David Klein reminded me of Orson Welles, a genius who could never top his first time out of the box. Both men seem to live in the shadow of what they created early on in their life, always trying to best that first idea and never seeming to get over the hump.

One has to commend Costa Botes on giving a full picture of both the man and the times. There is a true sense of all the elements in the life of the man, even when showing them with rose colored glasses. Costa Botes does have a one sided view of the events with a heavy hand behind David Klein. But, this is not journalism per se but and examination of how naive genius goes up against corporate survival.

Candy Man has won some awards and been featured at festivals. It is a film that it part history and part impassioned plea to set the record straight. While we do not see the other side of the story, Candy Man does give the audience an emotional ride of a man with a vision. It is truly a sweet, enjoyable experience.

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