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The Jerk

America's rediscovery of lame-brain comedy brought this starring debut for Steve Martin. Behind the stoned humour, it's basically a Depression romance about a sucker in the big city, boosted and updated by some pleasingly irreverent twists like his black plantation home (a foundling, he reluctantly has to accept the awful truth that he's white). The trouble with retard comedy is that it rapidly degenerates into banana-skin jokes; but at its best, The Jerk manages to move its central character away from the merely moronic to a truly hysterical Pollyannaism, as when he becomes ecstatic at seeing his name in the phone-book, or jumps for joy at the sight of his new home (a men's toilet: 'Like it? I love it!'). The comedy runs out of steam when the jerk makes good, but laugh for laugh it's probably a better investment than 10.

Release details

Duration: 94 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Carl Reiner
Screenwriter: Carl Gottlieb, Steve Martin, Michael Elias, Carl Reiner
Cast: Carl Gottlieb
Richard Ward
Steve Martin
M Emmet Walsh
Bill Macy
Catlin Adams
Dick Anthony Williams
Bernadette Peters
Mabel King