Our friends out at Anchor Bay sent over something very big for us going into Christmas: a copy of “Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis”. This one won’t be available until January 22, so we’re getting a very early look at this, but for those of you who can’t get enough of Jerry Lewis, or just don’t know enough about the man and his work, then you’re likely to get everything you want and more right here.
“Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis” goes about as in-depth as can be done, bringing in not only a series of interviews with the man himself, but also with a series of some of the biggest names in Hollywood, like Steven Spielberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy and a host of others going back quite a long way. Many of these interviews have never actually been seen before, so even for those who think they know everything about Jerry Lewis, they may well discover that there’s plenty left to learn.
“Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis” is actually an Encore original, so this isn’t going to be the standard documentary, and it will do a nice job of interspersing old footage with new to combine into a new and interesting whole that has a lot going on. There’s plenty to learn here in terms of comic timing, and the history of comedy, and even the history of the United States in relation to film releasing. Thankfully, Lewis also had a lot of experience in just about every facet of filmmaking. He’s been a composer, a writer, a director…and as such, he’s got a lot to say about each part. He’s even got a lot to say about how the different parts work together. Hearing Jerry Lewis talk about music is a little disconcerting, but it makes entirely too much sense not to hear.
A good way to summarize “Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis” is “Jerry says a lot of stuff”. It won’t be terribly boring, which is unexpected for a documentary, but it’s hard to believe that a guy who built an empire on comedy can actually be so thoroughly informative. He taught college classes, for crying out loud. This guy is a wealth of information and at the same time an utter riot.
Special features are incredibly sparse with this one, limited to your choice of English–as well as, not surprisingly, French–subtitles.
“Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis” is going to have something of a limited appeal, I grant. Not everyone likes Jerry Lewis. Even Woody Harrelson, in the film, could admit that there were people who didn’t like his work. He didn’t want to hang around with them, but they did exist, and as such, there will be a body of folks out there not interested. But for those who want a look at a documentary that will not only inform,. but also entertain, then this one will do nicely.