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That wild and crazy guy, Steve Martin, makes his film-starring debut in the wacky comedy The Jerk. Steve portrays Navin Johnson, adopted son of a poor black sharecropper family, whose crazy inventions lead him from rags to riches and right back to rags. Along the way, he’s smitten with a lady motorcycle racer, survives a series of screwball attacks by a deranged killer and becomes a millionaire by inventing the ‘Opti-grab’ handle for glasses. It’s an outrageous comedy with one laugh after another!
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4 Stars. From acclaimed actor writer, and director funny man, Carl Reiner [Caesar’s Hour (1954-1957), The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966), Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), The Man with Two Brain (1983), etc], comes a story by Steve Martin and starred Steve Martin [iThree Amigo! (1986), Roxanne (1987), Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), Parenthood (1989), ete]. Much like Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in Dumb & Dumber (1994) fifteen years later, Steve Martin’s Navin is an idiot. He’s a white boy raised by a poor all black family. On his 18th birthday he decides to go out on his own with his dog, S***head. After working at a gas station, where he gives an passing inventor an idea, he makes a life in the carnival where he finds his wife (Bernadette Peters). He soon finds out that his invention has made him millions, which only lasts so long. The movie still holds up with some laugh out loud moments, like when a killer (M. Emmet Walsh) is trying to off Martin and he thinks the killer is after cans or when he’s broke and does his famous exit, “Well I'm gonna to go then! And I don't need any of this. I don't need this stuff, and I don't need you. I don't need anything. Except this. [Picks up an ashtray.] And that's the only thing I need is this. I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray... And this paddle game.” Ultimately most of the comedy is dated for the late 70’s, early 80’s as one would expect, but it’s still clever and even vulgar at times. Steve Martin definitely shines in the role and is worth watching just for (pretty much) his comedy on-screen start. It’s definitely a comedy of the ages and one that made an impact for things to come.
There are plenty of older movies that have been re-issued where the studios went back to re-digitize the original film at a higher resolution - two examples would be Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Blazing saddles, both are old movies that look sharper on blu ray than they do on DVD. This one unfortunately is Blur-Vision - it's not sharp, and looks no different than the DVD version. (just look at the tire on the roof in the first scene)
Additionally, just like the DVD version, it has some issues with it's conversion from the 4:3 original to 16:9 widescreen, the gas station scene contains a key gag that happens on the lower 1/4 of the 4:3 screen, The gas station owner makes a hand gesture to Navin, which Navin repeats back (While completely missing the point of the gesture) in the original, you can see both actors perform the gesture, but in the DVD and Blu Ray release, the gesture performed by Jackie Mason is completely clipped off screen.