The Jerk (1979) Poster


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Laugh so hard, you'll miss half the movie
MIK7x327 May 2000
I'm glad that I didn't see this in the theatre, because when I watched it the first time on video, I needed to pause the movie several times just to catch my breath from laughing so hard! Wait a minute...was that the first time, or the tenth time? Playing Navin R. Johnson, the white son of a black family, Steve Martin leaves home to find "his special purpose." By the end of the movie, we all know what that entertain his fans the way he has! As for Navin's special purpose, if you haven't already seen the movie, you aren't going to get any more information than what's here. It takes intelligence to play a complete idiot, and Steve Martin does the job extremely well. Also take note of Martin's costar Bernadette Peters, and the cameo appearances by Jackie Mason and Carl Reiner. Whoever wrote that people who watch "The Jerk" will be quoting its jokes for years after was absolutely right. This was the funniest of Steve Martin's movies!
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Overwhelmingly and brilliantly funny with genius throwaways.
douglasreid-124 December 2003
To enter the realm inhabited by Martin's blissfully original caricatures, you must first be tested for wit, intellect and an innocent revelry in life itself. If you qualify, you will be led on to a rollercoaster of oxygen-sapping gags, stupendously clever motifs, brilliant performances and an absolutely fabulous script. There are gags here so new and surprising that to try and emulate them could only court failure. The joy of true love accompanied by him on the ukelele and on the last stanza by her on the........ trumpet: and a beautiful little song. Is it the humour or the innocence brings a tear to your eye? Don't call the dog "life saver", call him "s***head" - and for evermore, he is. The white man who is distraught to discover that he is not black. The goodbye note and Martin reading bits of words as they are washed away. The seminal "all I need" scene which is milked to the point of asphixia. The Jerk is simply the funniest most understatedly clever movie ever produced. There has simply never been anything this good, nor will there ever be. The message is simple and is a very old one: the buffoon as saint. From Bottom in Shakespeare, to Tristram Shandy, to Chaplin, to the genius understatement of Cary Grant, to Norman Wisdom: they have all touched on and come tantalisingly close, but they have all lacked one ingredient, an ingrediant calledSteve Martin. Like Orson Welles and Kane or Frederick Forsyth and the Jackal or Men at Work and Land Down Under, Martin has played his best shot first, unfettered, undisciplined, unconstrained genius. Let us all be better, brighter, cleverer and genuinely funnier by being the jerk. And if that's too frightening, just watch it.
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Steve Martin Carries the Film to the Top
tfrizzell13 April 2001
Steve Martin's out-of-this-world performance is the main calling card of this hilarious comedy. Martin stars as a moron who has been raised by a poor African-American family. One night after hearing some music on the radio, he decides that it is time for him to go find his place in the world. What follows is a poor man's "Forrest Gump". Martin gets into some odd situations and goes from the bottom of the social ladder, to the top, and then to the bottom again. This is a flat-out comedy that is a laugh-a-minute romp. 4 stars out of 5.
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Lord loves a workin' man; don't trust whitey; see a doctor and get rid of it.
ajdagreat10 June 2001
Why is the rating for "The Jerk" so low? Every comment said that this movie was hilarious! Hey, anyone out there who gave "The Jerk" a low rating, come write a comment! I don't even know what's not to like about this movie. The script is extremely funny. The naive, ambitious Navin Johnson is the role that Steve Martin was born to play. This is one of the funniest movies ever (any fans of my comments know that I say that often, but I really mean it!).

P.S. If you're a worried parent wondering if this movie is okay for your child to see, let him / her see it. It's actually pretty tame. I couldn't tell what made it an R-rated movie.
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Way ahead of its time ! ! The original spoof !!! The CORE-tickler :P
kellwyn868 September 2014
Excellent is an understatement for the actors and director of this movie.

Steve martin is truly a comic genius. I heard from a friend he's got a Super human IQ and he puts it to such good use. He portrays brilliance in comical situations, witty conversations and his energy is extra-ordinary. Bernadette peters is beautiful and quite enchanting herself. " loved the song they played with the Ukulele and the saxophone. Beautiful !

This flick is way ahead of its time, and the original spoof of many old and future Hollywood movies. With a ritz to rubble or a rags to riches kinda story and a light-hearted touch, this is a FUNNY FUNNY movie right from the start till the end that guarantees to tickle your funny bones for sure !! Cheers !
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Martin In His Wild & Crazy Days
ccthemovieman-111 July 2006
A very popular movie in its day, watching it a couple of years ago wasn't the same. Oh, it was still funny but just not the "hilarious" movie I always remembered it as. Maybe its reputation and memory exceeded its value, or maybe it's funnier when you are younger.

Whatever, there is still a lot of good laughs in year, subtle and slapstick variety. Now I laugh more at the subtle things. Almost all the characters in here, beginning with Steve Martin's "Navin R. Johnson," are wacky. Bernadette Peters, by the way, never looked prettier. This was in the earlier days of the ratings system and that PG rating would be at least PG-13 today. It still fun to see it after a long absence. Martin was on a roll back in those days, "a wild and crazy guy," and it's good that he's still entertaining us -- years later, although in a more subtle way. Hey, he's getting older, too.
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Overall, "The Jerk" is one of the most original, wacky, and wild and crazy (Martin reference intended) comedies ever. See it for laughs, plain and simple.
MovieAddict201611 March 2003
The Jerk - 4.5/5 Country: US Language: English Year: 1979 Rating: R Director: Carl Reiner Starring: Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Mable King, M. Emmet Walsh


Steve Martin had basically gained a burst of fame before starring in Carl Reiner's wacky comedy "The Jerk." Martin was fresh off hosting "Saturday Night Live" a few times, and had made a few albums and stand-up gigs. But "The Jerk" is what established him as an on-screen comedian.

Martin plays a lame-brain fool, who lives with his family on a plantation farm. Only one problem. His family is black, he is white. After coming to facts about his racial status, Martin flees from the scene and heads for the downtown gig. He is suckered out of - and into - many things throughout the film. Not as much of because he is innocent as he is dumb, however. Unlike comedies like "Blast From the Past" where the main character is treated bad and doesn't realize it because he/she is innocent and has no idea what to expect from life, Martin gets treated bad and doesn't realize it because he is stupid, not only because he is innocent.

The Jerk starts out working at a gas station. Some of the funniest scenes occur here. One, is when a madman with a sniper rifle is shooting at Martin and misses. Martin, being The Jerk, thinks the man is purposely shooting at paint cans. He says, "Hey! It's the cans! He must hate the cans! Stay away from the cans!" Another is when he gets a in a bathroom. ("Like it? I LOVE it!") And one that has always gotten my funnybone is when Martin looks in a phone book and sees his name. "I'm a person now!" He yells. This is true, of course. All of us feel like more than just skin after seeing our names printed somewhere. I recall first seeing my name as a reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes. It feels great to have your name written somewhere, because you know that someone, somewhere, saw that name and put it in. Someone read one of my movie reviews. Though Martin's character takes it to a new extreme, it is nevertheless true. When you sign your name on a document, the document becomes active and real. So why should it not be the same with Martin's character? Perhaps while he is a jerk, he is at the same time smart. Nah, he's just stupid.

"The Jerk" carved a place for itself in history. I had really never seen any comedy like it before. "Airplane" was released the same year, and the humor was much the same, as well as the editing (see below), but I saw "The Jerk" first, and it was an odd surprise. The humor is by itself. It is so odd and original that it makes it one of the best. Martin went on to make the less-successful "The Man with Two Brains," also directed by Reiner. The film is much the same, but does not work to the same degree. Too many jokes fall flat. Unlike "The Jerk," where the jokes start to fall flat in the middle and pick up again at the end, "The Man with Two Brains" had its hit-and-misses almost the whole way through. It was a fine comedy, but not great at all.

Steve Martin brings his character to life. He is one of the absolute dumbest, innocent, naive individuals I have ever seen on screen. But what makes him work so well is Martin. Martin behind it all. But the thing is, Martin dissolves himself completely into character. He is so stupid that you can't help but laugh. In "The Naked Gun" (1988) Leslie Nielsen used a dumb character and played him smart, deadpan, serious. Like everything he was saying and doing was normal. Martin does the same, but in a different way. He doesn't play him deadpan and smart. He plays a dumb character dumb, having no idea what he is saying and doing is wrong. And another interesting aspect is that even though Martin disguises himself as The Jerk, we can still see Martin shining through. Martin can play versatile actors (see "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" - 1987), but Martin is still inside. We can see him shining through. That is why Steve Martin is one of my favorite comedians. He can envelop his character, yet at the same time keep the Martin charm. That's why I can usually expect solid laughs from a Martin vehicle.

Director Carl Reiner does a few out-of-place cuts in "The Jerk," just like he did in "The Man with Two Brains," but I think that it worked overall. Part of what makes this movie so funny and goofy is how the editing is so odd. So many scenes are out of place and pay nothing to the film. But like I said, that is what makes it so original and stupid.

The film loses some steam halfway through, and the jokes sometimes fall flat, but overall the comedy is one of the best of its genre. I would say it is Martin's best comedy, but that spot is saved for "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" which co-stars John Candy. THAT movie is Steve Martin's best, and always will be.

Overall, "The Jerk" is one of the most original, wacky, and wild and crazy (Martin reference intended) comedies ever. See it for laughs, plain and simple.
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One of Steve Martin's best films
TheLittleSongbird25 September 2010
I honestly cannot decide which Steve Martin film is my favourite between The Jerk, Man with Two Brains and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, because I love all three and he is wonderful in all three. As for Navin Johnson, he takes on the role of a simple-minded and naive man to perfection. The film looks good, has a funny script, good direction and a lovely story. And the jokes are heavenly, particularly the one where he makes a fortune inventing an absurd nose support for spectacles. Bernadette Peters, looking gorgeous by the way, matches him every step of the way. Overall, there is very little I can say that hasn't been said already, other than to say The Jerk is one of Martin's best and funniest. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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One of The Greatest Comedies of All Time! You'll laugh Till You Cry!
jbartelone28 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It's a pleasure for me to review such a brilliant movie! The comedy is pure genius, not only because of the writing and directing, but the incredible performance of Steve Martin, playing the world's most lovable, humorous, "Jerk," Navin R. Johnson! We all know the story by now, and if anyone hasn't seen this movie you've been living under a rock for 28 years!

Navin R. Johnson, raised by poor Mississippi Black Sharecroppers, on his birthday "feels different" like he "doesn't belong." His "Mother" reveals the shocking news, Navin's not their natural born child! "But we raised you like you were one of us!" Navin delivers the spine-splitting laughter comment, "You mean I'm gonna stay this color?" and gets depressed. One night, however, he hears a catchy jazz tune on the radio (The song BTW is called "Crazy Rhythm.") and starts dancing around the house all excited and motivated! "This is the kind of music that tells me to go out there and be somebody!!!!" With renewed energy and a new outlook on life, Navin sets out to find his "Special Purpose." (Which he KNOWS is out there.)

However, his lack of intelligence lands him in some of the funniest situations ever seen in any movie. For instance, he gets a job at a gas station where the owner persuades him to work "for $1.10 an hour!" "How much?" Navin asks. The owner repeats, "$1.10 an hour." Navin is overcome with emotion, "You'll pay me, $1.10 if I work here an hour!!!???" He than writes back home to his family:

"Folks, I got this great job at a gas station! I don't wanna say how much I'm making, but let's just say IT'S A LOT!! I'm enclosing $2.00!"

Watch for so many scenes like this and some all-time great lines by Steve Martin as only he can deliver them. Comedy doesn't get any better. You are guaranteed to crack up every time you watch this movie!

Standouts are when he is being chased by a sniper at a gas station! Navin makes some HILARIOUS comments about cans that he thinks are defective because the sniper is shooting at him and keeps hitting the cans!!! "These cans are defective!!!" Navin says, "There springing leaks!" STAY AWAY FROM THE CANS!!! Navin also takes jobs at a traveling carnival roadshow as a weight-guesser and has more great lines when a Midway participant asks what prizes he can win! There he meets a very jealous motorcycle lady. (There is some course R-rated situations in this part of the movie.)

He also meets a dear sweet lady played by Bernadette Peters in a WONDERFUL supporting role. A bizarre invention makes him a millionaire, but the effects of the product force him into a lawsuit in which he loses everything and goes back to the foster family that still loves him.

Steve Martin was BORN to play this role! I can't say enough great things about this classic film! The only problem is that the theatrical version is missing a lot of alternative clips that can be found on the TV version: These include:

1.) Navin elaborating with Mr. Hartoonian at the gas station about making $1.10/hr.

2.) A Texas Millionaire conning Navin into giving money to fix the cracked seats on his airplane.

3.) Navin, depressed and despondent in a scene where after Marie leaves him, he goes up on an amusement park ride feeling "so broke that he had to spin."

4.) Navin telling his "Mother" that he had been waiting for his skin to change color, "any year now." I have been waiting for Universal to release a DVD of The Jerk that contains this added footage It may be awhile, so I will probably just have to get the DVD as is. It would be nice to have these added scenes included on a future DVD.

However, this is a movie that is brilliant on all counts and only seems to get even better with time! A Special Edition DVD if released will (hopefully) finally give "The Jerk" the royal classic treatment that it deserves!

All you need is a chair, remote control, TV set, a channel or DVD, or a tape of the movie, a VCR or DVD player to see the movie and that's all you need! And remember! "STAY AWAY FROM THE CANS!"
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A truly silly movie,top to bottom
S.R. Dipaling8 December 2005
Steve Martin's first starring role movie could be argued to have been an extension of his wildly popular stand-up routines of the 1970s. Perhaps so,but this movie to me seems to be also an exercise in making a truly silly movie,one that isn't really concerned with plausibility or irony.

MArtin is NAvin Johnson,a dim bulb of a dude with a good heart whose story begins with him being raised as the son of black share-croppers in the deep south. It never really occurs to him as a youth that he is different from his adopted kinfolk all the way into adulthood before he discovers that he doesn't have rhythm on his(18th)birthday. Deciding that he needs to leave home to find his identity,he embarks on a misadventure that takes him from working odd jobs to becoming a super-rich inventor/entrepreneur. Along the way,he finds love in an equally dull but extremely cute beautician(Bernadette Peters).

MArtin's full-on commitment to character and Carl Reiner's cooperative direction make this film a delightfully odd and fitfully funny. MArtin fans of all stripes will feel the need to own this one!
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