Never Catch Pigeons: And Eleven More Hard Lessons from Mr. Paul Van Doren is a mouthful of a title. It also suits the subject of the documentary perfectly. The founder of popular shoe company Vans, Van Doren is never at a loss for words. The film looks at how the shoemaker from New England changed Southern California fashion.
Today’s most popular stories are the ones that are the most salacious. Director Doug Pray provides a film that never goes in that direction. While there is some tragedy in Never Catch Pigeons, these moments are meant to give greater insight into Van Doren. It is never about revealing shocking information.
More than anything, Never Catch Pigeons is an inspirational story. Van Doren was good at math (which helped in some of this hobbies), but the fact that he came to run a $4 billion company is nothing short of extraordinary. Especially considering his upbringing, which saw him drop our of school and work in a shoe factory.
As with any good documentary, there are moments of tension. As Vans became bigger, it would go beyond shoes. There were athlete endorsements and the Vans Warped Tour. There was also the risk of the company that had done so much for the family nearly tearing them apart.
By the end of Never Catch Pigeons: And Eleven More Hard Lessons from Mr. Paul Van Doren the audience feels like they have been let in on something special. Doug Pray is able to give the sprawling narrative an intimacy that works well with Van Doren’s storytelling abilities.
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