2010, Movies

Candyman (2010, Costa Botes)

This is a messy, poorly made documentary about a really interesting story and a fascinating person, both of which deserve a competent film to tell their story.

Candyman is the story of David Klein, who invented JellyBelly jelly beans and but who sold the trademark about 30 years before this film was made. The film focuses on his version of invents and where he is now, which is living as a bit of a hoarder who is bitter about his lack of recognition. (This film appears to be an attempt to get that recognition.)

The good part is the story; this is a fascinating story about a uniquely American product and a uniquely American betrayal. At this point in my life, I’ve seen so many documentaries about business founders getting screwed over by others. But I still find them fascinating.

But this movie is not the movie to tell this story. Rather, it feels as though his son has raised some money and made a movie about his father. His son is a successful Hollywood animator, and he seems to have used that success to get this movie made. The movie seems to have been made by a director for hire but is really run by the son. The son is in it an awful lot – both on camera and as the narrator. He’s inserted himself into this film he has produced – as is his right – so that it feels like it is almost as much about his relationship with JellyBelly and his father as it is about his father. This is a pet peeve of mine, when the son of the documentary subject inserts himself into the film. (It’s more common than I’d like it to be.)

The film as a whole jumps around a lot, as it tells the story of JellyBelly and how Klein let himself be screwed over. It’s one of those documentaries where they follow around the subject while they insert talking heads here and there. This has been done many times before and much better.

It’s too bad this story doesn’t have a better film.


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