There is a scene midway through The Social Network, this year’s prohibitive Academy Award favorite, where former Napster guru Sean Parker relates the tragic story of Roy Raymond, the man who came up with the idea of Victoria’s Secret but sold his interest just before its valuation skyrocketed.David Klein could probably relate. Klein came up for the idea of Jelly Belly, the gourmet jelly bean that comes in a myriad of different flavors, and, as related in the documentary Candyman, he ended up selling his stake in the company for a tidy profit that turned out to be a small percentage of its eventual worth.
Why exactly he did that isn’t always clear in the film. He needed immediate cashflow to help a relative in need and knowingly, voluntarily gave up part of his stake. He was outmaneuvered by a party expecting hard business negotiations and getting capitulation. He was an entrepreneur who naively thought a second great idea would be just around the corner.
Candyman is a a good-natured, affable story about a good-natured, apparently affable man. If there is a criticism against against the film it may be that it is as indecisive as its subject. Veering occasionally into cultural criticism and social history, it eventually settles primarily into a documentary biography. Treading very lightly around anything that might be construed as showing its subject in a negative light, the film’s measured tone makes its hard for any clear conflict to emerge. Instead, we get good natured anecdotes from Weird Al Yankovic (Jelly Belly’s don’t have gelatin and hence are okay for vegetarians) and goofy home videos of Klein’s attempts at a second innovation (candy urine in genuine specimen cups!)