Under the Radar DVD of the Week: 'Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis'
This week, the oddest DVD on release lists is:
“Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis”
A running show-business joke for many decades has honed in on the French regard for Jerry Lewis as a comic genius, while in America the manic comedian’s star has been somewhat tarnished. Oh, those wacky French and their strange tastes!
But now there’s a documentary – bolstered by glowing endorsements from such luminaries as Jerry Seinfeld, Steven Spielberg, Alec Baldwin, Carol Burnett and others – that seeks to place Lewis, as writer, director and actor, back among the greats of screen comedy. “Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis” (due out on DVD Tuesday) originally aired on cable TV and comes across as a slick PR effort to polish Lewis’ legend.
Although in recent years Lewis, now well into his 80s and enduring health problems, has fallen into mawkish caricature (due, ironically, to his admirable work on the annual MDA telethons) and suffered from a number of embarrassing slips of the tongue (such as a gay slur during the 2007 telethon). Additionally, his antic, pratfall-heavy style of comedy (most notable in “The Bellboy” and the original “Nutty Professor”) has largely fallen out of favor.
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