The Pez Outlaw
DOCUMENTARY | Filmmakers Amy and Bryan Storkel offer a sympathetic portrayal of an American schemer’s candy dispenser resale racket
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➤ Rated TV-PG
Steve Glew admits he sold Pez dispensers without a license. Thousands upon thousands of the plastic candy holders. He bought prototypes and rejected models from overseas factories and found American collectors willing to pay top dollar for them. The new documentary The Pez Outlaw casts an unremorseful Glew as a victim when the Pez company fights back.
The “hillbilly from Michigan” wears an angler’s hat and sports a ZZ Top–length white beard as he recounts trips in the early 1990s to Eastern European Pez factories. There, Glew says, employees sold him rare dispensers under the table for as little as 27 cents. Directors Amy and Bryan Storkel dramatize Glew’s story, shooting some scenes in Casablanca gray tones that convey Glew’s sense of spy-thriller adventure. (Glew claims operatives followed him.)
He would return home with duffel bags full of Pez dispensers. Some, such as Bubble Man (a pink head with cheeks inflated from bubble-gum blowing) fetched more than $1,000 apiece. Glew concedes what he did was “technically illegal,” but he sugarcoats his racket, saying he was providing for his family. And he knocks Pez for not registering its trademark with U.S. Customs, allowing Glew to import the dispensers without interference. His wife, Kathy, calls him a “schemer and plotter … but a good guy.”
A former Pez marketing manager provides the corporation’s perspective. Glew accuses the company’s “Pezident,” Scott McWhinnie (portrayed unwinsomely by an actor), of trying to “stomp” him, although all McWhinnie did was protect his company’s rights. The film has several misuses of God’s name and mild obscenities, but interested viewers can learn how Pez finally outmaneuvered Glew.
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