- Movie Rating -

Hardly Working (1981)

| April 3, 1981

Mother of Mercy!  What happened to the great Jerry Lewis?  What happened to that delightful whimsical nut from 25 years ago, the goofy guy who sat in an empty board room in The Errand Boy pantomiming a business executive smoking a stogey and issue orders while his shouts were provided only by Count Basie’s band.

What a fall from grace, from comedy, from genius that he has fallen into a scene that has him working in a gas station being belted in the head with the a car hood and then blowing up the gas tank that has him hanging from the pole coughing billows of smoke?  Who is this guy?  Is this the Jerry Lewis that I remember.  Not on your life.  That man could build a scene of comic inspiration, but never falter to racial stereotype as a teppanyaki chef with big glasses and buck teeth.  He does that here and you just want to look away from the screen.

Jerry plays Bo Hooper, a out-of-work circus clown who proves himself to be chronically unemployable.  Proof of this is seen in scene after scene of Jerry getting a job, making a fool of himself and then getting canned.  He works as a chef, a gas station attendant and a mailman, all jobs that either literally or figuratively blow up in his face.  Somewhere in between the tries to switching gears and being a romantic lead again with disastrous results.

I came to this movie in the wake of a Good Morning America interview with Lewis in which he was whining and complaining that people don’t understand his movies.  Well, if this is what he calls comedy, then I don’t want to understand it.  This was supposed to be his comeback after a decade away from the screen but he has apparently a.) learned nothing about modern comedy.  b.) hasn’t seen a modern comedy like Annie Hall or Modern Romance or even the latest Mel Brooks movies.  He seems to be caught in a weird sort of time warp in which he’s been on Mars for the last 10 years away from comedy, away from modern film.  What is his take on it?  Lazy, outdated nonsense that has him embarrassing himself over and over in scenes that would have demanded a rewrite 30 years ago. 

This is not a movie.  It’s a test of your patience.  I felt so bad about this movie that I wanted to go away and pretend that it never happened.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1981) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized