Jerk

Jerk

4.3 10
Director: Carl Reiner

Cast: Carl Reiner, Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Catlin Adams

     
 

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Carl Reiner directs Steve Martin (who co-wrote the script with Carl Gottlieb) in this gag-laden comedy about an idiotic white man, raised by a poor family of black sharecroppers, who doesn't realize he's not black. Navin R. Johnson (Steve Martin) is told the horrible truth when he finds himself instinctively tapping his feet to an easy listening tune on the radio,… See more details below

Overview

Carl Reiner directs Steve Martin (who co-wrote the script with Carl Gottlieb) in this gag-laden comedy about an idiotic white man, raised by a poor family of black sharecroppers, who doesn't realize he's not black. Navin R. Johnson (Steve Martin) is told the horrible truth when he finds himself instinctively tapping his feet to an easy listening tune on the radio, instead of a low-down blues. His mother (Mabel King) tells him he's white and Navin takes to the road (in a World War II bomber helmet and goggles) to start a new life in St. Louis. A filling station owner, Harry Hartounian (Jackie Mason), give Navin his first break, hiring him to pump gas. One day at the station, Navin has a brainstorm, concocting an invention called "The Opti-grab," a combination handle and nose-brace for eyeglasses. But Navin runs into trouble when a crazed killer (M. Emmet Walsh) picks out his name at random from the telephone book and tries to kill him. Navin escapes to a traveling carnival, where he wrangles a job as the "guess-your-weight" man. At the carnival, he discovers his sexual nature, thanks to stunt rider and S&M enthusiast Patty Bernstein (Catlin Adams). But Navin meets the beautiful Marie (Bernadette Peters) and he quickly falls in love. In the meantime, the "Opti-grab" has taken off and soon Navin is a millionaire.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Steve Martin became famous for being goofy. As the majority of '70s comedians were reveling in the newly discovered freedom to make explicit commentaries on society and politics (Richard Pryor, George Carlin), Martin became a sensation simply because he had happy feet and wore an arrow through his head. He was not a silly man, but he had an appreciation for the absurd, not unlike the members of Monty Python. Before evolving into a formidable writer (Roxanne, L.A. Story, Bowfinger, and Picasso at the Lapin Agile) The Jerk captured Martin at the peak of his silliness. There are precursors to The Jerk (Jerry Lewis' work comes to mind) and there are films that it obviously influenced (Dumb and Dumber). While the best bits from this film could easily be used in those other films (it does not require much work to imagine Jim Carrey covering his behind and his privates with small poodles as he runs around naked), it is the essential sweetness in Martin's characterization that sets this film apart from both its forbears and its imitators. One can see the aggression that Carrey and Lewis direct toward themselves and, occasionally, their audience. Carrey beating himself up in both Liar, Liar and Me, Myself, and Irene is a good example of this tendency. Martin's performance never winks at the audience; there is no sense that Martin the actor knows this is funny material. He is confident that all the humor will stem not from his lack of mental capabilities, but because he is a saintly fool who always attempts to do the right thing. Whether saving cans or getting a proper dinner at a fancy restaurant for his true love, Navin's motives are pure. He may not have a brain, but he has a big heart. The film is a success because it's screamingly funny without degrading its characters or its audience, and it's sweet without being bathetic, sentimental, or maudlin.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/29/1998
UPC:
0025192021428
Original Release:
1979
Rating:
R
Source:
Universal Studios
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital, monaural]
Time:
1:34:00

Special Features

Production notes; Filmographies; Trailer

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Steve Martin Navin Johnson
Bernadette Peters Marie
Catlin Adams Patty Bernstein
Mabel King Mother
Richard Ward Father
Dick Anthony Williams Taj
Bill Macy Stan Fox
M. Emmet Walsh Madman
Dick O'Neill Frosty
Maurice Evans Hobart
Helena Carroll Hester
Jackie Mason Harry Hartounian
Carl Reiner Himself
Brownie McGee Blues Singer
Pepe Serna Punk No. 1
Ren Woods Elvira
Sonny Terry Blues Singer
David Landsberg Bank Manager
Domingo Ambriz Father De Cordoba
Richard Foronjy Con Man
Lenny Montana Con Man
Carl Gottlieb Iron Balls McGinty
Clete Roberts Announcer
Trinidad Silva Punk
Alston Ahern Bride
Debbie Evans Stunts
Ken Magee Carnival Rube
Alfred Dennis Irving
Lillian Adams Tillie
Joe Lynn Voodoo Dancer
Maurice Marsac French Waiter
Fred Lerner Con Man
Kimberly Cameron Disco Party
Elizabeth Macey Disco Party
Frances Williams Grandma Johnson

Technical Credits
Carl Reiner Director
Del Acevedo Makeup
Newt Arnold Asst. Director
Jack T. Collis Production Designer
Michael Elias Screenwriter
Jack Elliott Score Composer
Richard C. Goddard Set Decoration/Design
Carl Gottlieb Screenwriter
Joe Hubbard Set Decoration/Design
Victor J. Kemper Cinematographer
Peter Macgregor-Scott Associate Producer
Steve Martin Screenwriter
William E. McEuen Producer
Carl McEuen Producer
Henry Millar Special Effects
Bud Molin Editor
Penny Perry Casting
David V. Picker Producer
Bob Thomas Camera Operator
Theadora Van Runkle Costumes/Costume Designer
Charles M. Wilborn Sound/Sound Designer

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Chapter List
1. Main Titles: A Poor Black Child [8:49]
2. Words of Advice [3:30]
3. Navin Finds a Pet [1:56]
4. Navin Gets a Job [4:00]
5. In Charge [5:58]
6. The New Phone Book [5:56]
7. Joining the Carnival [3:39]
8. First Love [4:38]
9. Second Love [16:40]
10. Left Behind [3:14]
11. Navin Goes to LA [3:58]
12. Fame and Fortune [8:58]
13. Cat Juggling [4:15]
14. Snails on Her Plate [3:58]
15. Ruined [8:51]
16. End Titles: The Happy Ending [5:27]

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