Jerry Lewis makes his return to the big screen in this week’s new movie Max Rose. In it he plays a retired jazz pianist whose wife of 65 years passes away. That leaves Rose a bit aimless at his age, leaving him to fend for himself and reconnect with his children. One day as he’s going through his late wife’s belongings he finds a locket with a mysterious inscription from someone he doesn’t know and he begins to wonder whether she had some sort of affair – or at least had an admirer he never knew about.
Now that he’s on his own he also has lots more time to spend and no one living with him. So his kids and others encourage him to make friends at a local community center, where he bonds with other former musicians. It’s the kind of role that is perfect for someone of Lewis’ age and talents, allowing him to bring all his world-weariness and experience to a character who has been through all kinds of ups and downs and is reevaluating his life. It’s his Sunshine Boys.
Only one poster here, a nice simple effort featuring Lewis wearing a suit and sitting in a chair, looking to the side of the camera like he’s evaluating something or just contemplating life in general. The blue of his suit is contrasted with the dark red background. Below the title treatment the copy tells us “The legend is back,” so it’s selling Lewis’ return to the movies as opposed to anything related to the actual story.
We open with scenes from the marriage of the Roses, with voice over that seems to be from Max’s eulogy for her, which ends with him saying their life together was a lie. From there on out we get scenes of him meeting new friends and proving his bonafides as a musician to them. That’s intercut with shots of him and his kids as they try to figure out what the story of the compact with the inscription means. It’s full of Rose imparting life lessons and more to his kids and others.
It’s just wonderful. No, this isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off and sure there are some issues that are apparent, but overall this looks like a pretty great return by Lewis, who is bringing his whole arsenal of pathos to the role and the story. It looks like there are plenty of opportunities for heartstrings to be pulled. If you enjoy these sorts of career-capping roles and performances this will be right up your alley.
Online and Social
It doesn’t look like there was an official website for the movie but there were Facebook and Twitter profiles that shared information on new marketing materials, There was also generous pulling from Lewis’ career, with lots of Throwback Thursday videos and so on.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing that’s obvious here.
Media and Publicity
The movie has been sitting around for a while, having debuted at Cannes 2013. But this past year it’s been more active, screening at retrospectives for Lewis’ career and more.
There were also interviews like this with Lewis where he talked not just about the movie but also his history in show business. That was accompanied by lots of press whenever new marketing materials were released that referenced how this was the first role for Lewis in 20 years and what that meant.
The focus here is clearly on this being a return by Lewis to the movies, with only peripheral attention being paid to the story, which is primarily referenced in the trailer. Everything else here is just about how Lewis is back, capping off his long and distinguished career with a role that brings all the emotions and tears that brings with it.
As to the movie itself, it’s seemingly filled with life lessons. The trailer is a little uneven, bouncing back and forth between various elements of the story, but even that gets by because it keeps falling back on Lewis’ charm. The campaign sells this as a gentle, loving story about a man whose sense of identity is falling apart because his anchor, his foundation in the world is gone.