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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

The Jerk (1979)


Perfect reminder for why Steve Martin is a funny mofo.

After discovering he’s not really black like the rest of his family, likable dimwit Navin Johnson (Steve Martin) runs off on a misadventure that takes him from rags to riches and back to rags again. The slaphappy jerk strikes it rich, but life in the fast lane isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and, in the end, all that really matters to Johnson is his true love (Bernadette Peters).

Knowing that this was Steve Martin’s first lead starring role, I was expecting to chuckle here and there, but goddamn was I laughing at this.

The humor is something I would just call funny as hell. This film doesn’t really give a crap just how crazy it can really get, and I must say that adds to much of the humor that worked so well. Watching all these crazy off-the-wall situations, non-stop hilarious sight gags, and some of the best slapstick I’ve seen in film just had me doing more than just LOLing.

The film also has a pretty fun, and fast pace that really keeps things moving even though it does get a little uneven at points. There are many times when you can just quote this, and although some jokes in here may be a little bit offensive, and mean-spirited, you can’t stop but help to remember by the end of this.

My only real complaint towards this whole film is that it does run a little bit out of steam, and that’s mainly to its episodic feel to it all. I liked how they told this film in a rags-to-riches tale, but by the end once it becomes all way too obvious, it didn’t really have me laughing as much as it did earlier, but I was still cracking up.

Anytime that Steve Martin decides to choose another script like Bringing Down the House, or Cheaper By the Dozen, he can watch this film to remind him that he was really, really funny. He totally inhabits this moron-like character, Navin Johnson, but all this is lovable and the whole time your watching this film, and Martin’s crazy antics you can’t help but still fall or this dude. The slapstick Martin uses here adds so much more to this film’s overall humor, and works well towards it main character. Not only does Martin shine, but others such as Bernadette Peters, Caitlin Adams, and Jackie Mason all do good jobs as well. It’s just that Martin knocks them out of the water.

Consensus: Guided by a hilarious leading man debut from funnyman Steve Martin, The Jerk may feel a bit episodic, but the comedy is filled with so much stupidity, so much surrealism, and so much hilarity, you can’t deny the laughter that will be coming through your lungs during this film.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

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6 responses to “The Jerk (1979)

  1. Nostra April 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Only know him from later roles and never thought he was that funny. Might have to give something like this a chance to see if I just have a wrong idea about him.

  2. Chris, a librarian April 22, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I know you are too young to remember, but Steve Martin really exploded on to the scene in the late 70’s. He was everywhere: The Tonight Show, record albums, specials, prime time variety and of course The Jerk. The funny thing was that he was always in character (As the Wild and crazy guy) even when he was supposedly being himself. He finally did branch out, which was probably good for his career in the long term. I do remember when The Jerk came out it was must see viewing. And yes, I still have all his comedy albums.

    • CMrok93 April 22, 2011 at 8:43 pm

      I’am too young to remember, but I do know that he was a comedy superstar, and it’s just a shame to see him not doing anything good as of lately.

  3. Eric April 22, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    I haven’t really found any of Steve Martin’s more recent stuff to be that funny, but The Jerk is definitely a classic. Plus it has one of the best opening lines ever, haha.

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