Back in 2013, Jerry Lewis did something many people never expected…he made a film. Think about it…87 years old and making yet another movie after a long absence from the big screen. Millions of fans about the world were eager to see this film and apparently it made a big splash at Cannes. However, oddly, the movie sat on the shelf for three more years—with no release and folks wondering what happened to the picture. Then, inexplicably, in late 2016 the film was released….but only to a tiny number of theaters! Why?! Why the long delay and then why the incredibly limited release?! Here where I live in Florida, I couldn’t find any place to see this film and I was really anxious to see Max Rose. Thank goodness we can all finally see the film, as Max Rose finally, finally, finally is out on Netflix and you can stream this excellent film in the comfort of your own home.
The most important thing you need to know about Max Rose is that it’s not like any of Lewis’ other films. It’s definitely not a comedy and it stars Lewis but was written and directed by Daniel Noah. So folks hoping to see a Nutty Professor style film will be terribly disappointed. As for me, I didn’t mind at all, as I’ve always thought that Lewis’ dramatic roles have been among his best—such as in The King of Comedy and the amazingly good made for TV movie, Fight for Life.
Jerry Lewis, Kerry Bishé, Kevin Pollak
2 September 2016
Martin's Grade: A-
The other thing you really need to know about Max Rose is that it’s very slow and deliberately paced. It clearly is not for everybody and plays much more like an indie film than anything from Hollywood. So if you are looking for pratfalls, laughs and excitement, then you might want to pick another movie. I actually enjoyed the movie very much but must admit there were a few slower and even painful patches.
The story is about a man who, naturally, is named Max Rose (Lewis). The film begins with the death of his wife of 65 years and Max is beside himself with grief as well as not knowing what to do with himself. He also soon becomes very confused and angry when he finds something which would seem to indicate that early in their marriage, she’d been unfaithful to him. So now, on top of his loneliness and major upheaval of his life, Max is forced to come to terms with who his wife might have really been---all coinciding with his being moved to a retirement community.
I enjoyed this movie for many reasons. Foremost is that movies tend to ignore the elderly and their problems…as if, somehow, by not thinking or talking about this we might somehow be able to avoid old age ourselves. I love that Max Rose confronts aging and death head on and never flinches…and I really respect that. Additionally, Lewis was great in a very underplayed and introspective sort of performance. In a word, he was believable. And finally, it’s just so nice to see Jerry Lewis back on the screen and makes you wish more of our aging stars were not only in our hearts but doing what they love most…working and entertaining us all.