The Jerk
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Carl Reiner directs Steve Martin (who co-wrote the script with Carl Gottlieb) in this gag-laden comedy about an idiotic white man, raised by a poor family of black sharecroppers, who doesn't realize he's not black. Navin R. Johnson (Steve Martin) is told the horrible truth when he finds himself instinctively tapping his feet to an easy listening tune on the radio, instead of a low-down blues. His mother (Mabel King) tells him he's white and Navin takes to the road (in a World War II bomber helmet and goggles) to start a new life in St. Louis. A filling station owner, Harry… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Its humor is successful and unsuccessful by turns, and although Comedian Carl Reiner is the director, the instinct here is to give most of both credit and blame to Martin."
‑ John Skow, TIME Magazine
"We get the sense at times that the cast and crew arrived at a location, found the script bankrupt of real laughs, and started looking around for funny props."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"92 minutes of direct and sweet surrealism"
‑ Fernando F. Croce, CinePassion
"Steve Martin is at the height of his comic powers in this very un-PC comedy."
‑ Cole Smithey,
"Pretty funny star vehicle."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"An artless, non-stop barrage of off-the-wall situations, funny and unfunny jokes, generally effective and sometimes hilarious sight gags and bawdy non sequiturs."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"The laughs aren't steady, but they're persistent, and the film moves fast enough to compensate for its unevenness."
‑ Janet Maslin, New York Times
"If only he could have satisfied himself with this area of expertise, people would still talk of Steve Martin as one of the kings of comic cinema."
‑ Richard Luck, Film4
"While The Jerk is an extremely episodic little movie, that's a malady easily forgiven -- simply because the episodes are so damn funny."
‑ Scott Weinberg,
"The next time Marting considers a script like BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE, he should watch this and remember when he was funny."
‑ Brian Mckay,
"The comedy runs out of steam when the jerk makes good, but laugh for laugh it's probably a better investment than 10."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"An oddball odyssey so strange, filled with non-sequiturs so funny, and decorated by a romance so sweet, it was an inevitable star-maker."
‑ Simon Miraudo, Quickflix
"The whole thing is uneven and slight, but the highlight moments guilty-pleasure us with the sort of stupid-funny that's 'LOL' quotable afterward."
‑ Mark Bourne,
"Martin's one-liners are pretty funny, very dry, and awfully quotable."
‑ Christopher Null,
"Classic Steve Martin"
‑ Kevin Fiddler, Henderson Home News (Henderson, NV)
More reviews for The Jerk on Rotten Tomatoes

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