Historical & Hysterical
Despite having seen a few of the Martin and Lewis movies I would never call myself an expert, which I guess probably helps when watching made for TV biopic "Mart and Lewis" because it comes across as a homage rather than being totally factual. It also suffers because quite frankly I have never seen another actor who looks like Dean Martin and despite trying to imitate him Jeremy Northam doesn't quite pull it off, Sean Hayes is a little more convincing as Jerry Lewis. Having said all that "Martin and Lewis" is entertaining, watching Hayes and Northam do the routines is fun and whether true or not there is something quite touching to the suggested depth of friendship between Martin and Lewis.
So as already mentioned I wouldn't call myself an expert on Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis so I don't know how much of the storyline used in "Martin and Lewis" is based on facts. But basically this storyline takes us back to 1943 where both Martin and Lewis were performing separately, Jerry struggling with no one laughing at his act whist Dean being away from wife Betty picking up women after his performances. What follows is the story of how they came to be a double act when Jerry decided to act as an incompetent waiter during one of Dean's songs and the audience loved the shtick between them. Over the years they become as close as brothers whilst becoming major stars but over time issues start to occur as Dean, being pressured by his second wife, becomes tired of being Jerry's stooge and Jerry becoming jealous when ever Dean gets praised for being funny.
The thing about "Martin and Lewis" is that this is a movie which feels like it has been written and made by people who loved watching the real Dean and Jerry. As such what we get is a portrait of Dean and Jerry being incredibly close with Jerry seeking the approval from Dean he never got from his father and Dean's deep love for Jerry to the point that after an accident he spent all night with him in hospital at his bed side. Whilst this is going on we also see the destruction of the partnership which pretty much puts the blame on Dean's second wife Jeanne who comes across as poisoning Dean with her moaning about Jerry getting all the praise and that Dean could be a bigger star going solo. We do also see how Jerry's constant need to be funny, and being the centre of attention lead to some of the issues but mostly it suggests that the partnership split up because of outside interference. And in doing so delivers a suggestively touching ending about how Dean and Jerry really felt about the break-up.
Now as already mentioned Jeremy Northam does his best to imitate Dean Martin but because he doesn't look like Dean it is a stumbling block. Sean Hayes whilst a little more like Jerry Lewis still doesn't look enough like him to be believable either. But having said that Northam and Hayes work well together to deliver some fun Dean & Jerry routines which makes you forget that they may not look right because they make you laugh. In many ways that is the strength of "Martin and Lewis" because it manages to make you smile thanks to all the comedy.
What this all boils down to is that "Martin and Lewis" is an entertaining homage to the friendship between Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. How authentic it is? Well that is debatable but for sheer entertainment it works.