For Reel


The Family Jewels (1965)
May 28, 2016, 7:11 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Jerry Lewis
3.5 Stars
The Family JewelsThe Family Jewels at once shows Jerry Lewis at his most overtly sentimental and narratively frustrating. That is, while he immediately introduces a sickly-sweet dynamic between a young precocious girl (Donna Butterworth) and her beloved family chauffeur (Lewis), he also shows an incredible dismissiveness in the way that he tosses aside that dynamic in order to focus on increasingly long comedic set pieces. It’s a frustrating structure, but one which also somehow works—perhaps because, like the young girl, the audience knows each of these stops is essentially useless because ultimately she belongs with the chauffeur. This same sense of frustration and anxiety is perhaps best demonstrated when Lewis is given control of a gas station for ten minutes and, inevitably, all hell breaks loose—both the character and the artist don’t quite know when to stop. Those who dismiss Lewis’ sense of humor will find each of the uncle visits insufferable, but while they may not show the obvious visual genius of something like The Ladies Man, they do feature some genuinely witty plays with the camera (in one scene involving a photographer uncle, there is no difference between the camera lens shooting the film and the camera that exists within the film’s world).

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