The Jerk

Directed By: Carl Reiner
Written By: Steve Martin, Carl Gottlieb, and Michael Elias


I am usually not a fan of movies like this.  By this I mean that I don’t normally like movies that center on really stupid characters in an effort to be funny.  It’s hard not to like Steve Martin in the role though. He is just so funny as Navin Johnson, who was born a poor black man.

From the very beginning of this movie you can’t help but laugh. The scene of Navin on the porch with his adoptive family as they are all dancing, while Martin moves like someone having a seizure, might be one of the funniest I have ever seen. However, my favorite scene is the one where the mobsters are trying to get him to invest money when they mention “the n—–s” and he loudly declares himself to be one of them and beats all of the men up. I really like how Steve Martin so casually makes race jokes at the expense of white people, because it’s funnier, and more appropriate for the time the movie was released.  When his mother explains to him that he isn’t really their son and how they came to be his parents he just looks at her with that shocked and disappointed face and asks “so you mean I’m going to stay this color?”  Priceless comedy from a man who used to be so good at it.

I don’t really know what the deal with Steve Martin is, but somewhere along the way he practically fell off the map.   He has still been in some good movies over the years but I just don’t feel he has had the presence in the industry that he enjoyed through the 80s and 90s.  I know that he had a real hard time when Anne Heche came out of the closet and became a big time item with Ellen DeGeneres because he had been in a relationship with her prior to that.  I remember hearing somewhere that the news just crushed him. I think they were engaged or something but don’t know specifically.  Hopefully he felt much better when that poser went back into the closet and was seemingly straight again. Let me note here that while I am under the impression this is how it happened I do not know for sure so by all means correct me if I am wrong.  The only other thing I know about Steve Martin that keeps him from making movies more frequently now is that he is involved in a band.  Martin has always been a musician and he actually wrote and performed the song we see in this movie where he is playing the ukulele.  Today he is in a bluegrass band and I know this simply because he makes an annual trip to North Carolina for Merlefest.  I have never been but know people who go and have seen pictures.

Whatever the reason for Steve Martin’s production drop off, I have always been disappointed with it.  I think he is a talented and funny actor who was seemingly ageless over the years.  I grew up watching many of his movies and wish he was still out there blowing us away with new roles even now.  I thought he was good in It’s Complicated but by and large I haven’t seen many of his films over the last ten years or so.  The last one I remember watching in the theater was Bowfinger and I thought that was really awful.  I had gone in with high hopes because how could a Martin-Eddie Murphy team up not be awesome right? Unfortunately Murphy’s career has gone even more downhill though and that is unfortunate too.

This is a really funny movie and having grown up with it I will always have a place in my heart for it. If you haven’t seen it then you should check it out for no other reason than to see that once Steve Martin was a really funny actor.  It’s a silly movie but sometimes mood and circumstances call for a silly movie.  When that time hits you this is one you should check out.  This movie is worth your time and it would be to your best interest to see it.


I love this movie so much. It makes me laugh every time. It was such a surprise to me the first time we watched it together. I really wasn’t expecting it to be that funny for whatever reason. I was pleasantly surprised and I still laugh out loud during the scene when he gets shot at. It’s worth your time if you want to see it.


Even the poster is hilarious. He is carrying everything he took with him when he left the hotel room. I love the plot description in the upper left-hand corner. “He was a poor black sharecropper’s son who never dreamed he was adopted.”

The typography is nice and the blocks of color are indicative to the time this movie came out. I really like it a lot.


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