INDIE FLICKS: MAX ROSE
Two diversely remarkable performances make a cloying pair of indies tolerable this week. One comes from a certified Hollywood legend; the other by a quintessential character actor.
The legend is Jerry Lewis, making his first screen appearance since 1995's Funny Bones, as Max Rose (R), a recent widower discovering his wife's infidelity decades earlier. There's nothing funny about writer-director Daniel Noah's barely-a-movie or Lewis' intensely brittle portrayal of a haunted cuckold.
Lewis is over the top, in a faintly desperate manner that's understandable; at age 90, this is likely his last go-around. It's a performance of long, tortured silences interrupted by Max snapping at rote characters (Kevin Pollak's estranged son, Kerry Bishé's attached granddaughter). The exception is Dean Stockwell's role as Max's dying rival, coming late but worth the wait.
Despite the moroseness of Max Rose, three years after its lackluster Cannes debut, averting attention from Lewis is impossible for any number of reasons, not all flattering. Respect, ridicule, pity, admiration, it's all possible, based on your taste for treacle. Lewis' performance is a spectacle of ego and last-chance craft that could only be possible for a legend near the end. C (Veterans 24 in Tampa)
The character actor is Emmy winner Margo Martindale (FX's Justified), who's a hoot in The Hollars (PG-13), the directing debut of co-star John Krasinski. The Hollars plays like a Zach Braff cast-off, with its strenuous quirks and strummy musical interludes. Martindale plays Sally Hollar, whose brain tumor is the hub of a spinning wheel of contrivances.
Her portrayal is the film's lone attempt at authentic human behavior under these sitcom circumstances. Even police officers arresting a creepy home invader simply let him go when politely asked. No matter what dysfunctional family cliches hover around Sally's hospital bed — a prodigal son (Krasinski) returning, a disruptive son (Sharlto Copley) staying, her spineless husband (Richard Jenkins) — Martindale is achingly real, except when she's salt-of-the-earth funny. C (Sundial 19 in St. Petersburg, Veterans 24 in Tampa, Woodlands 20 in Oldsmar)
ALSO OPENING: STORKS
As a proud new grandfather of twins, I can verify that Storks (PG) didn't bring them here. But it's an enduring myth for the pre-birds-and-bees crowd, a species that, with the exception of Looney Tunes' recurring Drunk Stork character, hasn't been mined much for animated entertainment.
Storks starts with the notion that babies aren't these birds' most precious cargo anymore. Their delivery skills have been co-opted by an Internet shopping site that unlike Amazon can't afford drones. Junior (voice of Andy Samberg) is the company's best delivery bird but a bit of a Dodo: He and a human orphan (Katie Crown) accidentally flips on the Baby Making Machine, spawning an adorable infant. Junior must delivery the kid before his boss (Kelsey Grammer) wises up.
Celebrity voices include Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, plus Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as scene-stealing wolves. The musical score includes tunes by Fitz and the Tantrums, Jason Derulo and 5 Seconds of Summer.
Read a Grade B- review of Storks at tbtim.es/16ko.
in theaters: our Top 5
Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:
1 The Magnificent Seven: Rousing, old-fashioned western proving Chris Pratt, above, is a genuine movie star. Review, Page 10
2 Hell or High Water: Gritty, modern-day western starring Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine.
3 Snowden: Oliver Stone presents his most politically vital movie in decades.
4 Bridget Jones's Baby: Renée Zellweger must choose between Colin Firth and Patrick Dempsey. Decisions, decisions.
5 Don't Breathe: A home invasion goes horribly wrong for the invaders.
(Dates subject to change)
Sept. 30: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children; Deepwater Horizon; Queen of Katwe; Masterminds; The Dressmaker
Oct. 7: The Birth of a Nation; The Girl on the Train
Oct. 14: The Accountant; American Honey; Denial
Oct. 21: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back; Keeping Up With the Joneses; Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween
Oct. 28: Inferno; Rings
Nov. 4: Doctor Strange; Trolls; Hacksaw Ridge