The Jerk (1979) - 26th Anniversary Edition

Genre(s): Comedy
Universal || R - 94 minutes - $14.98 || July 26, 2005
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2005-07-28

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Carl Reiner
Writer(s): Steve Martin (story, screenplay) & Carl Gottlieb (story, screenplay) & Michael Elias (screenplay)
Cast: Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Catlin Adams, M. Emmett Walsh

Theatrical Release Date: December 14, 1979

Supplemental Material:
  • "Tonight You Belong to Me": Learn how to play this classic tune on the ukulele
  • The Lost Filmstrips of Father Carlos Las Vegas de Cordova
  • Theatrical Trailer

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.


"It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child."

The Jerk is considered to be a classic comedy along side the likes of Airplane and The Naked Gun. I did find the film to be very funny at times, but it also felt like an hour and a half long "Saturday Night Live" skit than a feature film.

The story is about Nevin Johnson, a man who grew up in Mississippi and goes out on his own taking odd jobs from a gas station attendant to a carnie to a millionaire inventor. While on his journey, he meets and falls for Magie but soon his fortunes turn upside down.

The Jerk is a random comedy from the king himself, Steve Martin who made a splash on "SNL" in various hosting appearances from 1976 to 2003. With this film, Martin made himself a movie star whereupon he got dozens of roles in the 80s and 90s in such classics like Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Dirty Rotten Scoundrals, L.A. Story (classic, INHO) and Father of the Bride. He has in the 2000s, had a resurgence with projects like Bringing Down the House, Cheaper by the Dozen (as well as a sequel) and Shopgirl (based on his own novel).

Although the film is funny, I did think it could be tedious at times. In any case, Steve Martin does a great job and this is a fun film to watch.


Once again, Universal has managed to botch another special edition. This "26th Anniversary Edition" has features worthy of some lame, no name, forgettable comedy that nobody cares about.

"Tonight You Belong to Me" is merely a comedic 'how-to' guide on playing the song on a ukulele which had to be the worst feature I have ever watched. The viewer can place a cursor on the ukulele notes and "play" them, watch some woman play along (with the words scrolling below), or watch the scene from the movie.

The Lost Filmstrips of Father Carlos Las Vegas is the only worthy feature, getting to see Martin playing other various characters on a "horrific" film where a fish is "teased" or a pug dog is cruely dressed up. Very funny, though weird, stuff that is just as funny as what is shown in the film...

There is also a theatrical trailer and production notes.

I have to wonder why, knowing there are alternate scenes used for TV, they decided not to include it on the DVD as "deleted scenes". The "special features" on this disc are overall just pitiful. There's no retrospective featurettes which could've had interviews with comics commenting on Steve Martin's talent.



Since the features are lacking, any fan of the movie will appreciate the widescreen 1.85 transfer as the original release was full frame, and aside from some grainy specs here and there, the picture actually looks pretty good for its age. I've seen worse transfers of movies only a decade old.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is ok with the dialogue coming only from the center speaker with surroundings coming from the others (in the typical low volume that Dolby produces). Since the movie is now 26 years old, I don't expect much. Since this is a comedy, I doubt you'd want your surround sound on anyways, your TV speakers will be fine.


Although the sound and picture are nice, one would expect more from an "Anniversary Edition" than what was provided. No deleted scenes, no commentary, no featurette(s). It is a step above the previous release, but needs alot more to make this DVD worthwhile for the occasional fan such as myself. If you're more than just an occasional one, though, pick it up but bewarned: it's only 4 years until the 30 year mark...