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The Jerk More at IMDbPro »

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77 out of 100 people found the following review useful:

Overwhelmingly and brilliantly funny with genius throwaways.

Author: douglasreid-1 from Northern Ireland
24 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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38 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

Laugh so hard, you'll miss half the movie

Author: MIK7x3 from Toronto, Canada
27 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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39 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Steve Martin Carries the Film to the Top

Author: tfrizzell from United States
13 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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37 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Lord loves a workin' man; don't trust whitey; see a doctor and get rid of it.

Author: (ajdagreat) from USA
10 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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29 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Martin In His Wild & Crazy Days

Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
11 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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36 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

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.

Author: MovieAddict2016 from UK
11 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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28 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

A Hilarious concept

Author: Anthony Einsel from Hastings, NE
19 August 1999

The Jerk is a great movie that stands out to the world. It's unique and fun in it's different way. Steve Martin plays a simple-minded man who strikes it rich and then falls back to the low-class way. The best part of the movie is the dialogue, it spreads from Martin's tasteless quotes to a different tone everytime. It's a classic movie... Even if it sometimes falls flat.

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25 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

What makes the jerk amazing is it is the closest thing SM stand up!

Author: veganflimgeek ( from San Diego, CA
11 January 2004

I think that Steve Martin as a stand-up comic was brilliant beyond most people's understanding. His humor often werid ,intelligent and always funny is among the best ever. The jerk is his only movie that feels like Steve martin stand up. To some level so does the man with two brains put the jerk is amazing on that level.

If you are even paying attention to the camera direction, or anything technical about this film you just don't get it. I have seen the Jerk so many times I know it by heart and i swear I laugh everytime. Best comedy ever. YES!

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16 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Steve Martin is the funniest man ever. Period.

Author: dirtydan1
15 January 2002

I am 16 years old. Therefore, i was not even around when this movie was made. The one day, though, i was walking through the movie store, and i saw a sign that said 2 movies for ten dollars. So, with my dads advice, i bought this movie. I watched it, and couldn't stop laughing the whole way through. I realized that Steve Martin is the funniest man ever. Period. Second to none. This movie was the funniest movie I've ever seen, and it got me hooked on other Steve Martin movies. Since then, I seen Planes Trains and Automobiles, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the Father of the Bride movies, and i can't get enough of him. I can only hope that he starts to act in more comedies, because i haven't seen him in any for a while. My rating for The Jerk is ten out of ten, two thumbs up, and five out of five stars. Thank you, Steve Martin.

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Pure Comedy Shinola

Author: mark1504 from London
31 May 2002

I first saw this when it was released at the movies. It was one of those you could happily go to see again with somebody else the following night. It's on TV right now as I write this, 23 years later and it's difficult to finish the review with all the great dialogue in the background. The purpose of a comedy movie (apart from making money!) is to make people laugh. This one does it constantly. I've got to give it a 10.

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