By Merle Bertrand | January 10, 2000

Writer/director Ben Walker hails from Alaska, which explains a lot about this video confection. See, it’s generally cold up in Alaska a lot of the time. When it’s cold and snowing, you tend to want to stay indoors where it’s warm and cozy and maybe do something like make a stop-motion animation film noir using Pez dispensers as your characters. Pez dispensers with the likes of Santa Claus, Darth Vader, Pebbles Flintstone, and Kermit the Frog, for heads. I’d guess that you won’t find too many aspiring Chuck Jones proteges along the sun-baked beaches of Trinidad & Tobago. Whether or not weather’s the reason, that’s what we’ve got here with Walker’s “Noir Candy:” a straight-up but tongue-in-cheek Sam Spadish detective story with a dash of Tarantino on top, complete with a femme fatale, ironic and snappy wordplay, and Walker’s Bogey-inspired voiceover…except that all the characters are that most eminent of pop culture icons, the Pez Dispenser. It’s a creative schtick, I’ll give him that much. Unfortunately, his script never rises above pure noir boilerplate and cliche. Nor does the animation ever go beyond the ultra-crude; about 8 frames per second when it’s ambitious and lots of still frame filler everywhere else. It doesn’t need to look like Pixar, but it should be a bit punchier than it is, considering that it uses the word “noir” in its title. As a result, the entire weight of the video rests on the one Pez sight gag which inevitably wears out well before the nine minutes are up. That one chuckle you get when you first see the characters is the main highlight of the film, especially once the title pun becomes apparent, (although the characters “bleeding” Pez when they get shot is a nice touch.) Still, it’s a goofy and harmless enough outing and since it must be DAMNED cold up there now, I can only wonder if Walker’s currently working on a sequel starring pet rocks. – Merle Bertrand

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