This is not the horror film from the nineties (because I would never watch that), but a documentary from last year that just recently became available on Netflix Watch Instantly. After watching If a Tree Falls, I was in the mood for another but lighter documentary. When I stumbled upon this film, I thought it would either be quietly genius or shit. Unfortunately it was just shit.
The story is about the man who invented Jelly Bellys and became Mr. Jelly Belly before selling all of his rights to the brand and no longer having any creative control over it. This man is framed as the most giving man in the universe that had this strange obsession with candy (just like I do with films and Daniel McGowan had with the environment). He was constantly coming up with this strange and crazy candies until he hit upon something that would change the face of the candy industry forever. Before him the industry was nothing but a compilation of boring and bland candies, but after him the candy industry became the crazy and colorful industry that it is today. (At least that is what this documentary will have you believe.) The problem that Daniel Klein had been that he was just too generous. He sold his rights to the candy to his partners for a big amount of money right before Ronald Reagan became president and thus setting off the phenomenon that was Jelly Bellys in the eighties. However the film will have you believe that he was bullied into selling his rights and because nobody wanted to speak for the other side, there is nothing to disprove this bullying.
This film was made by David Klein’s son. As I asserted yesterday in my review of If a Tree Falls, that the best documentaries are made by people who are outside of the event, movement or cause they are trying to document. These filmmakers tend to bring a sense of perspective that is needed in order to tell a complete story. This did not happen with this film. What could have been a story of individual greed and foolishness became a story about a candy martyr that I frankly don’t care about. Also it becomes way too much about the son as opposed to this weird candy genius. I care that you had a unique childhood, but I don’t care that you are trying to raise your new son in a different way. I don’t care that you rebelled against him and that your father seems lost without you. This film isn’t about him. It is about David Klein and his naiveté. Get over yourself. Also I feel like there are several interviews that did not work with this film. What the hell is Weird Al Yankovic doing in this film? He seems to not care about Jelly Bellys at all. He doesn’t even have a song about them. At least when the documentary went on a fifteen minute divergence to Reagan’s museum he had something to do with Jelly Bellys. Weird Al Yankovic is doing nothing but saying sarcastic things about the candy. It is funny but not in the way a film like this should be funny. You are underscoring the motive behind making this documentary. Either be tongue in cheek or be serious. You can’t be both and come out having a good product.
I want to apologize to David Klein if you see this review for how scathing I was in the previous paragraph. It is nothing against you, just this documentary. Do not watch this film. Instead just look up Klein’s wikipedia page. You would probably get as much information as this film provides without all of the annoyances.