#18 The Jerk

The Jerk (1979)

Dir: Carl Reiner

I just have one cat and I can’t juggle… I think she’s safe from the horror I just witnessed!

Today on Twitter the film critic Mark Kermode mentioned this film, so I decided to watch it. That’s essentially how I choose many of the films I’m watching, yes, I’m fickle.

The TV listings described it as a ‘zany comedy’ and that’s a good way to start thinking about it. ‘The Jerk’ was a vehicle for Steve Martin to move from stand-up comedy into film acting, and apparently it worked. The film follows the rise and fall of Navin, a white man raised in a black family who leaves home to discover the world, and obviously along the way he has lots of strange mishaps.

For me, the comedy was very much akin to that which you might find in a spoof, such as ‘Airplane!’ (which came out a year later). Much of the humour is visual, but there are also a few nicely written jokes in the dialogue. Really though, although there’s a storyline, the film is a series of gags and sketches in many ways, so many of the scenes could work well on their own, such as the one featured below, enjoy!



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