The Pez Outlaw
by Brandon Thomas
The world of collectors is an odd and varied one. From baseball cards to ceramic figurines, lunch boxes and even sneakers, virtually every product seems to have someone who collects it. However, the real interest lay not with the items themselves, but with the eccentric people who spend vast fortunes and tailor their lives around collecting. Sometimes, those eccentricities lead to actions that are lawfully “questionable.”
Steve Glew was just a mild-mannered guy from rural Michigan in the early 1990s. Glew was always a collector of odd-ball items, with his pride and joy being an assortment of cereal boxes from around the world. As his collector tendencies increased, so did Glew’s awareness that collecting could be lucrative. With his college-age son, he set off to Europe to snatch up as many hard-to-find and Europe-centric Pez dispensers as he could, and sell them to salivating collectors in the U.S. Along the way, he made hundreds of thousands of dollars and drew the ire of the Pez corporation itself.
A movie like The Pez Outlaw lives or dies by its titular character and boy, does Steve Glew not disappoint. Glew’s meekness is overshadowed only by his desire to commit fully to his interests. Glew didn’t just get into collecting and selling Pez dispensers – the hobby, and eventual business, finally gave his life purpose. Glew’s joy in driving America’s arm of the Pez Company crazy is evident and is a badge of honor for the self-proclaimed Pez Outlaw.
The reenactments of Glew’s ‘90s escapades are where The Pez Outlaw truly shines. Glew gets to show off his (quite good) acting chops by playing his younger self in the reenactments set primarily in Eastern Europe. Everything is told in a tongue-in-cheek manner that perfectly matches Glew’s boyish personality. The cherry on top is how these reenactments play with Glew’s idea of the truth. One is never quite sure if Glew is embellishing, misremembering or flat-out lying.
Pez collecting is cast in a fascinating light. Glew comes to feel like only one small piece of a world that includes Pez lovers who will spend over $10,000 for a single Pez dispenser or a collector who won’t show off the bulk of his collection at all for fear it will become devalued. From the outside looking in, this Pez obsession can seem weird, but for hardcore collectors, the real end goal is participating in something that makes them happy.
And who can argue with that?