Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis Gregg Barson

Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis Gregg Barson
7
It's rare to find 86-year olds still working away with much vivacity, especially ones that have already accomplished as much as comedian Jerry Lewis. But in informative documentary Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis, along with learning the storied history behind the career of the legend, we discover that the man is still performing and is almost as sharp and lively as ever. For younger fans of comedy who may only know Lewis as the inspiration for the Eddie Murphy remake of The Nutty Professor and Professor Frink on The Simpsons, there are many details to be gleaned. Starting with a triumphant entrance into showbiz at the ripe age of five, thanks to his encouraging vaudevillian parents, Lewis has lived a life that has seen its fair share of highs and, at least as far as this retrospective is willing to share, startlingly few lows. With the assistance of interviews from luminaries in the industry like Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, Steven Spielberg and even Quentin Tarantino, the film does a good job outlining the impact Lewis has had on future generations of comics and filmmakers. Sufficient time is devoted to the various stages of his career, starting with the early days when his act included miming lyrics to songs, continuing with the wildly successful period spent as half of a duo with Dean Martin and through to the years when Lewis pretty much had the run of the place at Paramount to make whatever movies he wanted. While there are those who are likely to find his broad, live-action cartoon style of humour not to their tastes, it's nearly impossible to not marvel at the ambition and accomplishments of a man who's brought so much joy and laughter to others. There is a touching quality to his relationship with Martin especially, as Lewis reflects back on the friendship with a great deal of nostalgia and warmth. The lasting legacy of Lewis is almost surely his work in film, where he made comedies with the type of freedom no longer granted by studios, while still finding time to invent the concept of video assist on sets. If the film does drag a bit, lingering a little too long on Lewis's modern-day musical efforts, it's easy to forgive when trying to pack a life this full into a mere two hours. (Anchor Bay)