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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Jerk (1979)

The backward adopted white son (Steve Martin) of black sharecroppers sets off to find his fortune in the world. He rises from a gas station attendant to a millionaire inventor but as dumb and tasteless as ever. Co-written by Martin (in his first feature film lead) and directed by Carl Reiner, the film is inventively silly with Martin displaying a remarkable talent for physical comedy. He seems to take such joy in the nonsensical shenanigans that his enthusiasm becomes contagious. Alas, the film runs out of steam eventually which is a pity but what precedes it is often hilarious and Martin's frantic search for cover as a sniper (M. Emmet Walsh) attempts to assassinate him or the wicked cat juggling sequence will stay with me forever. With the peaches and cream Bernadette Peters as Martin's love interest, Catlin Adams as a sex crazy carnival daredevil who deflowers Martin, Jackie Mason, Bill Macy, Mabel King, Richard Ward and Maurice Evans as Martin's butler.

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