Steve Martin

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles

Year: 1987
Directed By: John Hughes
Written By: John Hughes


This is one of those classic films that I just never got around to seeing. I grew up with John Hughes films but this one somehow eluded me. It’s lingered on my to-do list for a long time and when I finally decided to watch it I thought it would be better to watch and review in correlation with the holiday it is about. It just so happens that this Thanksgiving is a big one as tomorrow Amber and I will be hosting our families for Thanksgiving dinner for the first time.

I’m not quite sure how it is that I haven’t seen this movie at any point over the last 28 years. As a film fan who has seen such a wide variety this seems exceptionally weird for several reasons. First, I am a fan of John Hughes and have seen nearly every one of his films. Secondly, I am a big fan of both Steve Martin and John Candy. Coupled with the fact that I’ve seen so much this is just an unusual anomaly.

John Hughes movies are typical but we are endeared to them because they center on typical scenarios we can all relate to. Coming of age in high school, family troubles during the holidays, skipping class to have the greatest day of your life, or in this case, being stuck with an annoying man on a long and difficult trip. His movies have a timeless quality that will always be funny no matter how far we get from the 80s. They also feature life lessons that we can all learn from.

I think the oddest thing for me about this movie is trying to buy into John Candy as the obnoxious guy. Granted he plays the part well I just find him too likeable as an actor. I remember being sad when John Candy passed, he was an actor I had grown up watching and I was 10 when he died. He was probably the first celebrity I was attached to who passed away and I was consciously aware of it. John Candy was a really and truly funny person who was hard not to like. We should cherish every opportunity we have to see him in something.

I have always liked Steve Martin and I cannot figure out how I hadn’t seen this movie for that alone. When he loses it on the rental car lady with a barrage of fucks I laughed out loud and had to rewind it to see it again. I’ll never understand what happened to Steve Martin and why he failed to have long term success in acting. I think Martin is a really funny man and I love some of his classic films. He was particularly funny during the 80s when this movie came out.

This has been a fun and funny movie that I can easily foresee myself watching again come next Thanksgiving when I’m looking for a movie that fits with the season. I enjoyed watching it for the first time and have that feeling that it is the type of movie that will get better the more I watch it. Hughes movies have that quality too which is another reason they are always memorable.

If anybody out there is reading this now then wish us good fortune on our holiday tomorrow. With hope it will be the first of many Thanksgiving dinners at our home. If you yourself are looking for a movie to get you in the spirit of Thanksgiving this one qualifies and if you haven’t seen it take it from me that you have missed out. Don’t be like me and miss out on something really enjoyable like this.

With hope I find a Thanksgiving movie to watch on the eve of the holiday every year but there are little to choose from. The holiday is largely overshadowed by its bigger sibling, Christmas. Maybe next year we will watch Tommy Boy. Which is a movie I love but suddenly realize is practically a rip off of the concept we see in this movie. Fitting given I actually think of Chris Farley as a new age John Candy although Farley only outlived him by a few years.





The Man with Two Brains

Year: 1983
Directed By: Carl Reiner
Written By: George Gipe, Steve Martin, and Carl Reiner


I came across this movie when I was young because I think one of my uncles owned it and let me watch it.  I liked it because I have always thought Steve Martin was funny and at the time I was marveled by seeing boobs in a film.  It’s a silly movie, but I find that even as an adult it still makes me laugh. Some comedies don’t really need a point other than to be funny and when they get the response they were going for little else really matters.

I don’t usually go for movies like this because I have always turned my nose up at things I perceived to be stupid rather than funny.  Stupid is funny but I think when you are merely acting stupid to get a laugh you are taking the easy way out.  That’s always been my big problem with Will Ferrell.  The man can be really funny but more often than not he is simply acting stupid in an effort to get laughs. It’s the easy way to do things and I find it distasteful.  Steve Martin is in a movie that could more or less be called stupid but that man is just funny to the core and humor pulsates from him in this film.  He lost that quality somewhere along the way over the years but he owned the 80s.  I love when he is in the operating room in this film and scolds his orderlies for shaving a heart into his patient’s pubes. “It’s a brain surgery!” he tells them before looking it over and twitching his mouth in the funniest way.  He also tells one of my favorite jokes of all time in this movie.  When he brings his wife, played by Kathleen Turner, home for the first time she notices the Hispanic gardeners on the porch waiting and asks “what are those assholes doing on the porch?” Martin so deftly and humorously responds with a laugh “assholes, no those are pronounced Azaleas.”  Hands down one of the funniest lines I have ever heard and more than anything else that is what sticks with me from this movie.

The biggest problem, as I see it, with this movie is Kathleen Turner.  Not only is it the role she plays but I just don’t think she was cast right to play that role.  Don’t get me wrong, Turner is perfect for playing the sadistic bitch that squeezes the life out of men by tormenting them in a way that can only be done by a villainous woman.  I just don’t think she was right for a role that men are drawn to in the way they are in this movie.  Maybe it’s because at an older age in life she would occasionally play a recurring character on Friends as Chandler’s father.  If you are unfamiliar with the show read it again, she didn’t play his mother but portrayed the character’s cross dressing father.  Quite convincingly I might add.  What I’m saying is that she actually looks like a man trying to dress up like a woman and even when she was younger I don’t see her as being attractive.  Not attractive enough that men are drawn to her like they are to her character in this film anyway.

There isn’t much more to say about this movie. It’s a silly film but operates mainly as a platform for Steve Martin to go nuts and be as funny as he could be.  He is the saving grace of this film and the only thing that makes it worth your time.  He is hands down hilarious as the stressed out husband who isn’t getting any from his wife but is doing “great in the finger sucking department.” Not to mention his name, Dr. Hfuhruhurr, pronounced just like it is spelled.  Martin may have lost something along the way but this is a perfect example of the comedy that man was capable of in his heyday.  I don’t usually recommend this movie because it’s so silly but it is worth your time if for no other reason than simply enjoying how great Steve Martin could be.


Who doesn’t love Steve Martin? I grew up watching some of his comedies, and when I started dating Ryan, he introduced me to even more that I had never even heard of, including this little gem. It’s very slapstick, doesn’t make sense in a ton of places, but is one of the most fun movies to watch. It’s an easy watch and I find myself laughing every time that we watch it.


HAH! I love this! It’s as slapstick ridiculous as the entire movie, and really works. I love that they twisted off Steve Martin’s head, since that’s what he invented in the film. His hair is all crazy like a mad scientist, not to mention his face. No, wait…his face always looks like that.

The typography fits with this. Takes electricity to zap a brain to life in those old films and so the designer is using that in the typography. I think it really works. I think this was actually a very well thought out poster and works on all of the levels that it should.

NEXT MOVIE: Mars Attacks (1996)

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.


Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Year: 1988
Directed By: Frank Oz
Written By: Dale Launer, Stanley Shapiro, and Paul Henning


I mentioned in my review of Criminal that I usually enjoy movies about con men and that is especially true for this film.  I wouldn’t say that I loved this film or that I think it is awesome, but nevertheless there is a lot to like about it and it’s always fun to watch. I wouldn’t call this film exceptional by any means but sporting the duo of Steve Martin and Michael Caine makes it something special. Throw in the fact that it was directed by Yoda and you have something that is easily worth your time.

The part of Yoda in the Star Wars films was played by Frank Oz.  Oz has also been known to direct films of his own from time to time and has made some really good movies.  This movie, as well as What About Bob?, are really good examples of his work.  I am not sure why Steve Martin has not been able to transition his talents with the times but it seems now that all his best work is long behind him.  He is the center of so many great comedies throughout the 80s and early 90s but has had such a struggle making hits in his later years.  Michael Caine is the complete opposite however, seemingly getting better with each film that he makes of late.  Caine is like a bottle of fine wine, not only does he get better the older he gets but he makes every movie he is involved with better.  Caine carries an air of dignity and class with him that he is able to put on display in all the films he is part of. He has the good fortune of being a favorite of director Christopher Nolan currently and can be seen in many of his films.  Nolan is possibly the greatest director currently out there so getting a definite role in all of his films is quite the accomplishment.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a timeless comedy, it will be fun and funny for as long as people continue watching it.  These kind of con artists will undoubtedly always be part of our society and they will always spark the curiosity of movie goers when films center on them.  This is a comedy so we can enjoy the antics of these men without having to deal with the dramatic consequences these people bestow upon their victims.  I think both Caine and Martin are outstanding in the film and Frank Oz comedies are usually quite fun. I always enjoy watching this movie and I think it is definitely worth your time.


I love Steve Martin. I think he is one of the funniest people I have grown up watching. I like this film as well. You get to see a younger Michael Caine, which is awesome considering most people our age know him, but can only remember him looking like an older man. This film is a silly movie about con men. It isn’t an academy award winner and it won’t have you peeing in your pants laughing, but it is definitely worth your time and is a good movie.

NEXT MOVIE: Donnie Brasco (1997)