Even at the start of his singing career, Dean Martin is an impressive gentleman, big, tall, handsome, exquisitely dressed, fitting his nightingale voice and naturally classy appeal, even though his womanizing costs him enough in alimony to declare bankruptcy. Jerry Lewis on the other hand is an unsightly schmuck, whose buffoon version of stand-up comedy is an agent's nightmare. When he accepts playing MC in a show with Dean, he tries interacting with him, and they hit gold judging by the audience's reactions. Initially Dean wants to walk off and stay a solo act, but success as a duo is irresistible, and they rocket together, even in Hollywood. However in time they fall out of friendship as their characters and lifestyle clash, and Dean still dreams of solo success. Written by
More and more, as the evolution of television leaps forward with such groundbreaking shows as 24, Band of Brothers and 6 Feet Under, we are taught how antiquated and limited your basic TV Movie has become. No better example here in MARTIN AND LEWIS which in years past would shine as your basic movie-of-the-week. But now, with those shining comparisons, it seems like a low-budget, commercial-laden highlight reel of a much longer and complex tale. That being said, the one thing that does rise above it's medium here is the talents of both Northam and Hayes. Jeremy Northam has a twinkle in his eye as he dances around the murmuring voice cadences of Dean Martin (who seems to be positing that Martin sounded drunk even when he wasn't...if that is possible). I don't know another actor who could so effortlessly play Martin's playful masculinity. Unfortunately the actor is forced to go from 0-60 because he must portray divorce, conflict and then playful boozer in scenes back-to-back. The same can be said of Hayes ,who has the unenviable job of homaging an actor still alive and is under that scrutiny (with the apparent well-wishing Lewis on-hand). Both actors live up to their spot-on casting but the production seems bogged down by it's limited time-length and by the length of ground it needs to cover (which it wearily tries to compensate for by endless scrolls of posters portraying the countless films these two did together). All in all, a great effort but, once again, it leaves one asking..."Why didn't they do this on HBO?" which is less a criticism of the movie than of network programming altogether.
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