A recent pub argument ended up pitting the near worthless cinematic careers of Robin Williams and Steve Martin. I believe the jury found slightly in favour of Martin (though nice things were said about Popeye), though Martin’s win was largely laid at the feet of his “early, funny ones”. Luckily this is no Woody Allen argument, but it did force me to finally watch The Jerk.

Now my scales slightly tip towards Williams. I had imagined that The Jerk was a disjointed laugh-a-minute gagfest, a loose rambling attempt at stuffing Martin’s hyperactive stand-up in film form. Well it is all of that, with the exception of laugh-m-minute gagfest. There are comic ideas here, mostly ruined by Martin’s hopeless faux-naive playing of the lead as some sort of idiot rather than a jerk. There are some good physical gags, but if you have seen Martin do his funny dance once, you have seen it enough. Shoehorning Jackie Mason in does not really help either, there is no foil for his kind of verbal humour and he seems to smart for the flick. There is nothing wrong with dumb, and there are about eight half decent sketches in The Jerk. But I guess what annoys me most is that Martin’s character IS NOT A JERK.

I also caught Caddyshack the other day. Christ, what did a kid have to do to have a laugh at the end of the seventies?

(Possibly less than they had to when belated sequel The Jerk, Too came out.)