Sneak Peek: Max Rose
From Paladin: MAX ROSE is a deeply moving drama featuring Jerry Lewis in the title role–and in every scene–as a retired jazz musician whose beloved wife of over six decades has just passed away. Though his career wasn’t everything he’d hoped it would be, Max always felt like a success because the beautiful, elegant Eva was by his side. But, while going through her effects, Max discovers an object bearing an intimate inscription from another man, a shocking revelation that leads him to believe his entire marriage, indeed, his entire life, was built on a lie. Coping with anger, withdrawal, and his own fragile health, Max embarks on an exploration of his own past, all the while searching for Eva’s mysterious suitor, in the hope that he can get the answers he needs to be at peace.
Starring: Jerry Lewis, Claire Bloom, Kevin Pollak, Kerry Bishé, Dean Stockwell, Mort Sahl, Rance Howard, and Lee Weaver
Written and Directed by: Daniel Noah
This transcript has been lightly edited:
The Referee: Hey, hey, everybody! The Critic got a chance to see a “Sneak Peek” (laughter) at a new movie called “Max Rose” that’s coming out September 2 in a theater somewhere, maybe an art-house theater or major markets. And, it’s starring one of the comic greats, who’s still alive; and I had no idea!
The Critic: Yeah.
Ref: And, this is Jerry Lewis. Yes, THE Jerry Lewis …
Critic: Nutty Professor!
Ref: The original Nutty Professor. “The King of Comedy” — Scorsese’s movie. I mean, Jerry Lewis is probably among the last living legends of the ‘50s, ‘60s, and, obviously, now, into our modern time.
Ref: Also starring in the movie is (laughing) some of TV and film’s veterans. Kevin Pollak, who I love …
Ref: … as well as Dean Stockwell, if you don’t know that. Fred Willard! … is in this, along with some others. Tell us about it.
Critic: OK. So, what happens is: Jerry Lewis plays the titular character, Max Rose. He is a musician — a pianist. (laughter) And, his wife has just died.
Ref: Oh. Oh.
Critic: So, you know, it’s late in life. So, that’s to be expected. But, he’s a widower. He can’t really take it. We see what the director, Daniel Noah, does — and the writer, Daniel Noah. What he does is: He shows us what [Max Rose is] thinking of, in his memory. So, you have those kinds of flashbacks that — you know what it looks like when they give you that kind of dream …
Ref: Yeah. Yeah.
Critic: … sequence kind of thing. So, we see him seeing his wife. And, really, he’s detached from his own reality. He doesn’t want to deal with his granddaughter, whom he loves. And, his granddaughter’s played by Kerry Bishé, who is one of the stars of “Halt and Catch Fire,” among other things.
Critic: So, she’s there to care for him, but he’s not really there with her. His son — her father — is played by Kevin Pollak, and they have a strained relationship. So, eventually, what happens is: Mr. Max finds a little trinket …
Critic: … that suggests that maybe his wife wasn’t the woman he thought she was. Oh!
Critic: So, this kind of gets him going. He, eventually, gets out of his house. And, he agrees to live in an old folks home. (laughter) And, that’s when, to me, the movie kind of takes off. It gets some energy in it. And, he meets some other guys there. They have this wonderful scene, where they’re just recounting days past and enjoying each other’s company; and that was fun. But, eventually, he ends up confronting a person — a man — who maybe was, you know, trying to infiltrate his marriage.
Critic: Yeah! And, “Quantum Leap,” if you know that: Uh-oh! (laughter) So, at the end, we see: Is this resolved for Max, or not? Is he able to move on? And, is he able to still cherish his wife — the memory of her — at the end? So, it’s all about relationships. It’s about the past and reconciling that in the present. What I’ll say is … it’s not too long. The opening, to me: You understand why we need these melancholy moments, but it might lose a lot of viewers.
Critic: Again, once he gets to the whole “nursing home” kind of situation, it does pick up a bit. So, that second half of the film has a little more energy. … You know, it’s OK. It’s OK as a story. It’s really not gonna be something, where you go, “Wow. I haven’t seen something like that before.” But, what I do appreciate the most is the actors. And, I really think it was smart of Daniel Noah to cast Jerry Lewis in that role, because you don’t expect it. But, Jerry Lewis’s face — that face, the expressions — even when he’s not talking a lot, which doesn’t happen in a lot of the film, especially in the first half, you get it …
Critic: … in his face! He just shows you all of that, and I think Kerry Bishé — playing his granddaughter — has a great rapport with him. You feel that they love each other, but it’s hard. You know, it’s just a hard thing.
Critic: She has her own life. You know, she’s a musician who’s separated from her husband because of this. … You see, with Kevin Pollak, playing his son, the strain in their relationship. And, is that reconciled or not?
Critic: So, I would say, as a character piece, it’s stronger than just as a regular film.
Ref: Well, you know what? The thing is: He’s a living legend. He’s 90-years-old, right now. It’s something to check out, if you can at the theaters, probably just for him. Or, maybe when it comes around on your DVD or something like that, just to say, “Yeah, I got to see Jerry Lewis one more time.” (laughter)
Critic: Yeah. I completely concur!