Dad Doc Double Feature: Candyman (2010) & My Father The Genius (2002)

Anyone who reads my pop culture blog UnitedMonkee will know that I’m a big movie fan. I used to watch a lot more on a daily basis, but with Lucy, I don’t want to have the TV on constantly. It’s probably better for me in the long run too. Some days, though, I’ll watch a few things while taking care of her and getting work done. Today, I happened to watch a pair of documentaries that wound up being about mostly different things, but shared one interesting connection: they’re both about visionary men who don’t sound like they were very good fathers.

First I watched Candyman: The David Klein Story. All I knew about this one going in was that it was about the guy that invented Jelly Belly jellybeans. What I did not realize, however, is that the focus, David Klein, made some terrible business decisions and wound up selling the company for a ridiculously low price because he didn’t really understand the business side of things. You aren’t really told this until about half way through the movie, so, if you’re like me and don’t know any of the history, comes as quite a shock. Klein has spent the rest of his life trying to match that success and ultimately failing.

One of the stars of the documentary is Klein’s son Bert who also a producer on the film and did some narration. David lost the business when Bert was still a kid, but after he did, he started treating Bert differently, which caused a bit of a rift between them. It sounds like David might have taken a lot of his anger out on Bert for ultimately failing at realizing his dream and trading it away for a measly compensation that ran out years ago. It seems like they’ve got a better relationship now, but you can tell that there’s still a lot of hurt in there.

Speaking of hurt, architect and the subject of his own daughter’s documentary My Father The Genius, Glen Howard Small has created his own fair share, but you don’t quite get that until part of the way through the film as well. We’re first told that director Luicia Small is making this film essentially at her father’s request. She then explains to us that he’s a visionary who came up with all these interesting ideas about how to create new buildings and spaces that not only took the environment into account, but also beauty and nature. Then we get a bit of a bomb dropped: Glen’s kind of an ass.

He’s had three different marriages, comes off as a misogynist, has several kids all of whom he has essentially abandoned — both physically and emotionally — and he just doesn’t understand how to be a nice person and work within the system. Now, I understand that some people thing that true change can only come when you tear down the establishment and good luck with that, but I think the way society is built has shown us that change is far more likely to come from the inside. It’s very possible that Klein actually does have ideas that could change the landscape of the world, but no one wants to deal with an asshole.

In addition to life lessons about how to run a business and work within the system of life, it was also interesting seeing examples of men who sacrificed their families in various ways to try and fulfill their dreams. As someone with some pretty wild dreams himself, it’s a good thing to see in order to keep myself grounded and look out for a few warning signs. I don’t think it will really be a problem though. Klein is just generally sad, I think, while Small seems completely incapable of looking at himself from the outside or see how his actions might hurt other people. Hopefully I don’t have either of those traits, but if I do, I’ll head back to Netflix Instant and watch this double feature again.

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