The Jerk (1979)

Navin finds the beat.

Navin finds the beat.

The Jerk is one of my favorite movies of all time, no doubt about it. It helps that I have a pretty intense crush on vintage Steve Martin. It was a fortuitous accident that had us watching The Jerk right after Being There; the two have an awful lot in common, as they both revolve around men, neither of whom are the brightest bulbs, that stumble quite accidentally onto fame and fortune.

Navin Johnson (Martin) is a white guy growing up with an African American family somewhere in Mississippi. It isn’t until his birthday that he finds out he is adopted, which helps to explain why he always feels “different.” One fateful night he hears

Even though Patty helped Navin find his "special purpose," his heart truly belongs to Marie.

Even though Patty helped Navin find his “special purpose,” his heart truly belongs to Marie.

some easy listening jazz that “speaks” to him, and prompts his decision to leave home and embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

He stumbles upon a job at a gas station, and a casual conversation with an inventor leads to his unsuspected fortune. He marries Marie (Bernadette Peters), the woman of his dreams and the hilarity ensues as the two rubes attempt to fit in with high society. All good things, of course, must come to an end, and a

Navin Johnson, finally, is somebody (whose name is in the phonebook...)

Navin Johnson, finally, is somebody (whose name is in the phonebook…)

class-action lawsuit sets out to ruin Navin’s life.

This movie is funny in so many different ways. There’s a good bit of slapstick, some terrible puns (my favorite form of groaner humor), and of course Steve Martin’s trademark goofiness. It’s more than just funny, though – it’s also incredibly sweet. Navin and Marie’s love affair is just too cute for words, but it’s not so terribly sappy that you’ll groan in disgust. It also manages to transmit the message that fame and fortune are nice, but nothing is as important as family without being preachy or annoying. No one in this movie is particularly intelligent, but Navin Johnson stands out as one of the dumbest movie characters in film history, which I think helps make him so darn lovable. This is one of the best movies ever and everyone should watch it.


2 Responses to “The Jerk (1979)”

  1. 1 ladyfaceladyface
    June 18, 2013 at 7:55 am


  2. 2 aperzins
    June 25, 2013 at 11:22 am

    He hates these cans!

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