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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> December 1999 >> The Jerk

The Jerk

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
December 1999
IMDB Name:
Jerk, The (1979)
Carl Reiner
MPAA Rating:


It is critical to the humor of The Jerk that the audience believe Navin Johnson to be an idiot. Steve Martin plays the part, and he is decidedly not an idiot. Most of the humor is based in word play, with only a few instances of physical comedy. Some great scenes simply involve Navin taking things out of proportion, like the thrill of seeing one's name in print, even if it is just in the phone book. Others play on Martin's extreme talent for taking a sharp left turn mid-thought, like the thing he's been waiting to say to Marie for a while.


Is Navin Johnson's stupidity enough to make an entire movie out of? Probably not. The movie does have a tendency to drag, especially near the end when Navin's plummet from fame begins. There is a difficult scene when the movie goes for laughs despite the awful tone, and it's reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition. When the jokes work, they work, but expect some down time.

Copyright 1999-2000 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.