Jerry Lewis 'Max Rose': Cannes Standing Ovation for 'Disastrous' Comeback

Jerry Lewis Max RoseJerry Lewis in 'Max Rose.'

Jerry Lewis Max Rose panned: Cannes Film Festival

Jerry Lewis and Charles Chaplin both made comedies. What else do they have in common? One possible answer: Claire Bloom, Chaplin's Limelight “discovery” (Bloom had already been featured in the 1948 British drama The Blind Goddess) and Lewis' leading lady in Max Rose. (Image: Jerry Lewis in Max Rose.)

Jerry Lewis' first movie since Funny Bones (1995), Max Rose was screened yesterday at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Written and directed by Daniel Noah, whose previous directorial effort was the little-seen 2001 thriller Twelve, Max Rose stars the 87-year-old Lewis in the title role: a former jazz pianist who, following the death of his wife (Claire Bloom), discovers that his marriage may have been less than ideally monogamous.

Max Rose: Jerry Lewis' 'best script in 40 years' – critics, however, considerably less impressed

At the 2013 Cannes press conference, Jerry Lewis called Max Rose the “best script I read in 40 years,” explaining that it's “marvelous” because “it's about elderly people who've been thrown away.”

Lewis also joked that Daniel Noah was the best director he has worked with in fifty years. So much for The King of Comedy's Martin Scorsese.

Anyhow, Variety reviewer Rob Nelson was unimpressed with Max Rose, deriding it as “a sappy sudser in which every stage of grief overstays its welcome. … Only the most undiscriminating senior audiences – or the most irrationally charitable of Lewis fans – will find much to appreciate in a would-be weepie that runs under 90 minutes but feels twice as long.”

Equally unimpressed was Hey You Guys' Craig Skinner, writing: “As the titular Max Rose Lewis is reasonably adequate, playing the thinly written character with a hint of melancholy and a lot of curmudgeonly behavior … .” Overall, however, Max Rose marks “a disastrous return to the screen for Lewis … but one which received a lengthy standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival. Despite the fact that a number of those clapping had quite obviously dozed off during the film.”

Jerry Lewis and 'female comedians'

Apparently, more interesting than watching Jerry Lewis in Max Rose was watching – and listening to – him at Cannes' Max Rose press conference. Shortly after Lewis' arrival, Skinner recounts, festival director Thierry Fremaux asked the veteran Hollywood star if there was anything he wanted to say about Max Rose. As a response, Lewis yelled: “No! I got here at 10 after 1, you putz!” Unfortunately, Fremaux's reaction went unrecorded.

Regarding woman comedians, Lewis, who grew up at a time when Irene Dunne, Carole Lombard, Jean Arthur, Rosalind Russell, and Claudette Colbert were starring in various sorts of movie comedies, expounded: “I can't see women doing that. It bothers me. I cannot sit and watch a lady diminish her qualities to the lowest common denominator. I just can't do that.” Additionally, he remarked that his favorite “female comedian” is Cary Grant. (Note: In French, this was translated as Lewis' “favorite actress [comedienne].”) Luckily, it seems that no one bothered to ask Lewis questions about gays or his falling out with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Also of note, Lewis told the crowd at the press conference that “no one will ever see [his 1972 movie The Day the Clown Cried] because I'm embarrassed at the poor work. It was bad.” But really, could The Day the Clown Cried be any worse than The Nutty Professor, The Errand Boy, The Patsy, or Three on a Couch?

At least Jerry Lewis gets some points for his reply to a silly question about “the difference” between American humor and (monolithic?) European humor: “No difference. American humor is no different from other humor. Humor is humor.”

And he had kind things to say about working with Claire Bloom. More points for him.

Max Rose cast, no release date

Max Rose features original music by 81-year-old veteran composer Michel Legrand (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Atlantic City, Yentl). Besides Jerry Lewis, the film's cast includes Kevin Pollak, Kerry Bishé, Fred Willard, Illeana Douglas, Jacob Young, Lee Weaver, Mort Sahl, and veteran Dean Stockwell (Anchors Aweigh, Blue Velvet).

So far, no release dates have been announced for Max Rose.

Jerry Lewis Max Rose photo: Lightstream Pictures.

Jerry Lewis 'Max Rose': Cannes Standing Ovation for 'Disastrous' Comeback © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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4 Comments to Jerry Lewis 'Max Rose': Cannes Standing Ovation for 'Disastrous' Comeback

  1. Dee Dee Russell

    That was cold blooded. Often critics write for style not for compassion or arts appreciation. This is JERRY LEWIS for gawd's sake! Thats like dissing one of James Brown's last concerts!

  2. VICTOR MARCELO

    Jerry lewis, alegro gran parte de mi infancia,fueron muchas las horas de risas al ver sus filmes.
    Muchas veces quise ser como ese personaje de cine. Gracias Mr. Lewis y gracias por que aun esta en esta tierra. Soy de Chile…..pequeño y largo pais en sudamerica.

  3. Scott Weaber

    As a fan of Jerry Lewis and his 1960's films, which the writer of this article so causally disregarded as having no merit, I don't believe this is a fair review of his new film. Jerry has suffered many health problems and he is 87 years old. He has always spoke his mind and many of the sarcastic comments he has made have been taken too seriously. I think an unbiased review of the film - not A review of Jerry, would of been more appropriate. I will see “Max Rose” and decide for myself.

  4. carolw_15106

    Jerry caught himself right after he used the f word and apologized later, too.
    He's old school about gender but made movies with Helen Traubel. The crowd
    laughed when he called the festival director a putz as brash humor, nothing
    serious. Jerry gets some strong reactions one way or another, but the ones
    who are obsessively negative seem to take such moments too seriously. For a
    more sympathetic review, see the rogerebert web site.