Films, Humor, Reviews.

The Jerk: A movie that never gets old

Pocket Review, Title The Jerk, Studio Universal Studios, Rating 4.0, Carl Reiner Steve Martin

The Jerk (1979)

Director: Carl Reiner

Pocket Review

Clip: It's these cans! He hates these cans!

The Jerk is a naïf, a not-quite-holy fool, who finds his life one astonishment after another. It is the most maniacal and subversive of Steve Martin and Carl Reiner's movies together. This film provides the perfect vehicle for Martin's comic style, which I have always enjoyed.

The best parts of Reiner and Martin’s first three movies together, The Jerk, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, and The Man with Two Brains, showcased Martin’s patented over-the-top earnestness. Reiner directed and did some of the writing, and Martin acted and wrote, also.

The fourth and final movie of their collaboration, All of Me, was written by others, and represented the start of a shift by Martin towards more sophisticated comedy, albeit with large doses of idiotic behavior, this time not so much by Martin as by other cast members, memorably Richard Libertini’s brilliant turn as Praka Laza.

The Jerk can still make me laugh out loud, even after many showings. I sometimes feel a little giddy watching this movie, anticipating scenes I already know well.

Steve Martin’s most irresistible movie for me is The Jerk, although his most consistent and sophisticated movie is Roxanne. The other movie of Steve Martin’s that I don’t tire of watching is My Blue Heaven. He has done some other fine comedy over the course of his career, particularly The Man with Two Brains, All of Me, L.A. Story, Parenthood and Bowfinger.

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