• Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind The Clown (Umbrella Entertainment) DVD Review

    Released By: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released On: June 12, 2017.Gregory MonroJohn Carroll Lynch
    Cast: Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Martin Scorcese, Sean Hayes
    Year: 2016

    Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind The Clown- Movie Review:

    I love Jerry Lee Lewis. Love him. The man is a legend, and he will never not be one of my favourite musical acts. Jerry Lewis, minus the Lee, however, that's another story altogether. I do not like Jerry Lewis. Not at all. Not even a little bit. I don't find his idiotic, facemaking, screeching child persona one bit entertaining. I think he's as annoying as Jim Carrey, though I will give him credit for providing Jim Carrey with a lifetime of annoying material to steal from. I will acknowledge, also, that even though I don't think that Jerry Lewis is funny, he has to be talented; the man has cranked out enough films to make it clear that he knows what he's doing behind the camera, and the French think he's a fricken genius. I don't know much about Lewis' films except that the ones I've seen feature similar, bumbling characters. And that at some point, he was going to release a film about a circus clown in a concentration camp. And that his "comeback film" was supposed to be 1980's, "Hardly Working", a screaming piece of garbage that even the most dedicated fan must have difficulty getting through.

    So, why did I choose Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind The Clown to review? Well, that's easy. Anyone who knows me and my taste in documentaries is aware that I seek out documentaries on subjects, people, things that I dislike immensely, attempting to be proven wrong. And that's happened many times; and even when it hasn't, I generally come away with a bit more of an understanding of why people think the way they think about things that they like that I don't.

    The Man Behind The Clown, in case you didn't know, is a 2016 Made-For-TV Film by the France-Born Gregory Monro, who brought the project to Lewis in the form of an interview that would serve as a backdrop for the film. Lewis agreed, and that's one of the strong points behind the film; having Jerry himself serve as narrator. Over a barrage of vintage clips, Lewis takes the viewer from his birth in New Jersey in 1926 to his success in films, via some family difficulties as he overshadowed his father's career in entertainment, and his partnership with the incredible Dean Martin. As most fans of Martin and Lewis (no, not the milkshake) know, that relationship ended poorly, each fuelled by their friends' and advisors' suggestions that they didn't need each other and could do better solo.

    It was Martin and Lewis colleague Frank Tashlin who taught Jerry how to work behind the camera, and was the inspiration for Lewis to write, direct, and star in The Bellboy, Lewis's first taste of self-created stardom, that would lead to many, many more wonderful films. But as Lewis cemented his position as a talented director, admired by the new wave of French filmmakers, including Jean-Luc Godard, he faced a backlash from his American fans who wanted the same old stale routines; funny, and to hell with breaking new ground in filmmaking. An imperfect role model, audiences weren't interested in Jerry as a leading man; that was more suited to the strong, good-looking types like James Stewart. And like the Ramones, while Jerry was certainly appreciated in his home country, he had to travel across the ocean to be paid the respect he was due.

    Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind The Clown is certainly a notable endeavour, and starts in the right place with the backing from the man himself. It also does well to include clips from Lewis' films and television shows, to illustrate the beginnings and talent of the actor who's name would become synonymous with physical comedy. The film falls short in a number of areas, however; Monro chooses to rely on an all-out assault of video clips to illustrate Lewis' talent, but they become mundane in their overuse. His choice of talking heads, as well; including Australian impersonator Tony Lewis; give an E! True Hollywood Story vibe to the production. Fortunately, Martin Scorcese, who directed Lewis in 1982's The King of Comedy is also present, and Marty is always a treat.

    To put it bluntly, The Man Behind The Clown is too much of a fluff piece to take it too seriously. There is no mention of Lewis' Day The Clown Cried, Hardly Working, or really, any notion of the fact that Jerry faced some serious challenges in his career as an artist. His breakup with Martin is barely touched on, yet, the most poignant moments occur near the end of the film as a very aged Lewis chokes up as he looks at pictures of him and Dean together. Jerry's telethon is inarguably a worthy cause and a decent note to go out on, but it's too little emotion too late. Monro would have been better served, it seems, to rely solely on his interview with Lewis and interject clips here and there, rather than just blast the viewing audience with a ton of vintage footage. Fans will have already seen them; and those who aren't in the know would likely feel more fulfilled just getting to know the man.

    Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind The Clown- DVD Review:

    Umbrella brings Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind The Clown to Region Free PAL DVD with a 1.78:1 transfer that looks just fine. Given that the film is primarily made up of multiple clips of varying ages and sources, it shouldn't be expected to dazzle with it's quality, but it's perfectly watchable and largely glitch free.

    Audio is carried courtesy of an English Dolby Digital 2.0 track that pretty much fits in line with the video; some clips are quite old, and suffer accordingly, but nothing is difficult to hear. No subtitles are available.

    First up in the extras is The Art of Clowning (9:51), which provides more analysis of Lewis' work with some of the same critics found in the film.

    Next up is Dean and Jerry (10:16) which is primarily made up of clips from their show on the Colgate Comedy Hour, and some of those same critics analyze the famous team of Lewis and Dean Martin.

    Interview With Greg Monro (11:42) features the Director of the film discussing how he brought the idea of the film project to Lewis, and his apprehension given Jerry's sometimes harsh treatment of interviewers. Monro also talks about Lewis' extensive clown and camera collection.

    Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind The Clown- The Final Word:

    Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind The Clown is a short and light look at the famous comedian, that doesn't stick around long enough to get into any real depth. Viewers not familiar wit Lewis' films will certainly get a crash course through a number of clips, but real fans will likely find this more fluffy than not.

    See Below For Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind The Clown screen caps!