People in the past have described screen legend Jerry Lewis as “the human ape” or “a child who drank one too many Shirley Temples.” Others derided him as just plain silly. Similarly my mother, Diana, was reluctant to see Jerry Lewis’s classic slapstick comedy The Nutty Professor, which he directed and co-wrote until it was confirmed that the film was not a Martin-Lewis combination. It has now become one of her favorite films!
Was Jerry Lewis misjudged? I believe he was. Jerry Lewis is often referred to as a clown, yet it takes a genius to make a film such as this! The Nutty Professor is about a shy, timid, accident-prone college professor who invents a magic potion that turns him into the very opposite: a sort of Jimmy Dean parody. His “cool dude” goal is to win the hand of senior student Stella Perdy. Under the cover, this Jekle-and-Hyde parody covers a number of issues, such as perception and reality.
Lewis did this film as carefully as possible, showing details of society as well as using wit to make us laugh. The Nutty Professor is different from the Martin-Lewis movies. Whereas in the Martin-Lewis films has comedy, slapstick, and an abundance of chaos, Lewis created a sort of serious 1960’s comedy. It reminds me of Groundhog Day - which received the same rating I gave this film. Why is this movie so different? The Nutty Professor was released in 1963, seven years since Martin and Lewis split up. According to my research, Jerry Lewis split up with Martin when critics started claiming that Jerry Lewis was the real talent and that anyone could replace Dean Martin’s straight man role, back in the early 50’s. Lewis vehemently denied that any of this was true and often said in interviews that he could not have made success without Martin. Hollywood or Bust (1956) would prove to be their last film together when the pressure got too hard on Martin and the two got into a damaging fight. And so with that, the great comedy team of Martin and Lewis, a partnership that had gone from their first performance in 1946 in a dusty night club, to the glammer of film, radio, and television.
The Nutty Professor would not be the first that Jerry Lewis would do alone, but it is probably the most remembered. The great comedian is still alive and well for he just completed a voice-over work for the direct-to-video film Curious George 2: Follow that Monkey!(which was released on March 2, 1010). Another film in which he is set to star in is Max Rose,where he is set to play the title character in the film. The Nutty Professor franchise includes a 1996 remake of the original film with the same title starring Eddie Murphy, and a sequel to the remake also starring Eddie Murphy, titled The Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps. Interestingly, both Eddie Murphy films were produced by Jerry Lewis.
The pure magic Jerry Lewis is fully displayed in this funny, sexy, hilarious Jekle-Hyde parody that can be shared and enjoyed by friends and family for generations to come!
Movie ratings on scale from 1-100: Robert Steven Mack – 99/100
Copyright 2010 by Robert Steven Mack