The Jerk: 40th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray

Steve Martin in The Jerk (Universal Pictures).

Directed by Carl Reiner and starring Steve Martin, The Jerk is marking the film’s 40th anniversary in 2019 with a new Blu-ray release this year.

The Jerk is known for being one of the funniest movies of all time.  When the American Film Institute honored comedy movies with their 100 Years, 100 Laughs selections in 2000, The Jerk came in at #89.  This is the only film directed by Reiner to make the list.  As far as I can tell, it’s the only film from Martin’s filmography to make the list, too.  One of the things I learned in watching the bonus features is that the films original title was Easy Money.  During the conversation between Martin and Reiner, we learn that the title was changed shortly after Reiner signed on to direct the film.

There are certainly some phrases that wouldn’t be allowed in this film today.  I won’t repeat the word today since it’s a derogatory slur.  It’s great that Navin Johnson speaks up for his adopted family. On the other hand, Johnson repeats language that would not be allowed by today’s standards.  I would argue that such language certainly would not make it past the first draft.  Not without a lot of notes for what it’s worth.  This does speak to the lens that we view the film.  Do we view it through that of the 21st century or a 1979 lens?  I guess this is for you to decide.

The two conversations that are new for the 40th anniversary make the edition worth it.  Both conversations run over 20 minutes in length while offering fascinating insight.  The Jerk also proved to be a big turning point in Steve Martin’s career as he was making the transition to acting.  Following this film, Martin would star in a number of films during the 1980s including the Thanksgiving classic, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

Hailed as one of the funniest movies of all time, Steve Martin stars as Navin Johnson, the adopted son of a poor black sharecropping family in Mississippi. When he learns that the world is a much bigger place than he’d ever imagined, Navin sets out on a quest to find his “special purpose.” His adventures lead him to encounter a would-be assassin, jobs in carnivals and gas stations, a life-saving dog, romance with the girl of his dreams and more money than he could ever spend. But his life in the clouds may come crashing down when the source of his new fame and fortune creates disastrous side effects.

Bonus Features:
*Remastered from a Brand-New 2K Transfer (NEW)
*A Conversation with Steve Martin and Carl Reiner (NEW)
*A Conversation with Writers Michael Elias and Carl Gottlieb (NEW)
*Learn How to Play “Tonight You Belong To Me”
*The Lost Film Strips of Father Carols Las Vegas De Cordova
*Trailers & Radio Spots

DIRECTOR:  Carl Reiner
SCREENWRITERS:  Steve Martin & Carl Gottlieb & Michael Elias
CAST:  Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Catlin Adams, Mabel King, and Jackie Mason

Universal Theaters opened The Jerk in theaters on December 14, 1979.  A 40th Anniversary Edition is now available on Blu-ray.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.