Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Jerk (Movie Review)

Navin R. Johnson: Why are you crying? And why are you wearing that old dress?
Marie: Because I just heard a song on the radio that reminded me of the way we were.
Navin R. Johnson: What was it?
Marie: "The Way We Were."

Well now I understand why people always sounded so appalled when I confessed to never having seen this Steve Martin classic.

It's actually quite good, with Martin starring as the likable Navin Johnson, a "poor black boy" from the South who sets out to discover his roots (or his "special purpose," if you will) only to find himself in all variety of misadventures.

Navin is entirely naive, which seems to only add to his charm. The result is a breed of comedy that borders on terms generally viewed as opposites: it's screwball, in a way, and yet very much so "subtle."

I know that sounds contradictory, but The Jerk (1979) pulls it off (oy!) amazingly well. This is definitely a "must see" for anyone who appreciates smart comedy that maintains a reasonable degree of silliness.

FINAL GRADE: A-

8 comments:

=) said...

Ahhh... Such memories. That was actually the first movie the Chief and I watched together. Of course he was a creepy 18 year old stoner and I was a sweet innocent 14 year old. I counted it as our first "date" for years even if it did take him another 14 years to finally ask me out for real!

Oh! And welcome to the 70s

bookfraud said...

don't forget "mexican cat juggling"! or steve martin running outside with nothing but a dog to hide his privates. or his dancing on the porch at the end...

i'm dating myself when i say this, but critics hated "the jerk" when it came out. but now it's got its deserved cult status. steve martin at his sui generis best.

Jon said...

I love that movie. Nice work.

Eli said...

This was a fave of mine as a kid. When he walks down the block with his few belongings I almost cried, ha.

Glad you liked it.

Stacy said...

My favorite movie of all times. In the 70s when it came out, my sister and I would quote excerpts, My sister-"I was born a poor black child" Me-"Its not the money I care about, its all the stuff".
Throughout the 80s and 90s my sons and I would do the shtick. Again-funniest movie ever in my book.How did you live so long without it?

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

=) Thanks! I missed it (the 70s) the first time around, on account of not yet being a sentient being.

Bookfraud - It really is brilliant comedy. Up there with Monty Python in terms of dry humor.

Jon - Thanks!

Eli - Yeah, that cracked me up too. "I don't need anything... except this lamp. I need this lamp. And this... and this..."

Stacy - I love how when he finds out he's not their "natural born" son, he exlaims, "So I'm going to STAY this color?!"

For whatever reason my mother despised Steve Martin, so we seldom watched his movies when I was a kid. Add to that I'm more so a product of the 80s, and "The Jerk" pretty much flew under my radar until fairly recently.

Jamie Willow said...

I heart this movie.

Jamie Willow said...

"I don't need anything...except this lamp..."

oh yes...I do indeed heart this movie..

and the cat juggling...ROTFL...I have a good friend who is a cat lover and she was horrified at that scene...so funny...