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- 94 min.
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The definition of hit and miss.
The Jerk is a rather bizarre Steve Martin comedy (even by his standards) that spoofs the rags-to-riches biopic (so prevalent today) along with a few other genres along the way, and does so with zany sketch ideas that often stand out as completely original, but are more intellectually amusing than laugh-out-loud funny (mileage may certainly vary). For me, the improbable moron is the least interesting comedy archetype, and that's part of my ambivalence here. I also feel like the film's title is misleading, as the character is more naive than a jerk, although the word does have other meanings. I might have expected corruption to play a stronger role in the "riches-to-rags" climax of the story. I say story, but The Jerk is really a hodgepodge, with the protagonist moving from situation to situation, never quite gelling into a cohesive whole. I still do appreciate this as a parody of film clichés that does not resort to parodying specific films to take its targets down.
Uneven, but definitely passes Mark Kermode's 6-laugh test for comedies. 'Good Lord, it's KITTEN JUGGLING' had me laughing particularly.
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In 5 official lists
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This movie ranks #68 in Stanley Kubrick, Cinephile
This movie ranks #89 in AFI's 100 years...100 laughs
This movie ranks #99 in The 100 Greatest Comedies of All Time (BBC Culture)
This movie ranks #465 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #656 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die