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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Race > Skits > TV > The Jerk (HD-DVD) + The Best Of Steve Martin – Saturday Night Live

The Jerk (HD-DVD) + The Best Of Steve Martin – Saturday Night Live


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Film: B-/B



Steve Martin is back!  After being the man who finally revived The Pink Panther, pulled off the remarkable Shopgirl and had one of his biggest blockbusters ever with Bringing Down The House (not to mention those pat Father Of The Bride and Cheaper By The Dozen films), he is as hot as ever.  In the beginning, he tried something different, took risks and had the talent to pull off most of what he tried.  Two early highlights have now come to home video.  Carl Reiner’s The Jerk (1979) has been more influential than given credit for, helping Jerry Lewis have a surprise comeback film and often imitated by other comedians like John Leguizamo.  Now, it has hit HD-DVD.


At about the same time as the first full season of Saturday Night live finally arrives on DVD, a single volume devoted to Martin hits DVD with a great variety of highlights and classic moments form his many appearances over the years as one of the most enduring comics in the shows long history.  The kind of history with so many ups and downs, many unjokingly say “you mean that show’s still on?”


The Jerk has martin as Navin Johnson, the adopted orphan of African American sharecroppers now on his own.  They came up with some innovative ideas that made them rich, then all went bust and his is a nomad with no money.  The cross-firing culture shock is not just sloppy and going for laughs whether they work or not, but Martin, Carl Gottlieb and Michael Elias have a more interesting project in mind with a deeper honesty in the sometimes wild humor and Martin was a movie star in a hit right off of TV and his hit record King Tut.


The Tut performance is on of the many great ones the SNL DVD offers, along with martin as James Bond as a cheapskate, his own standup and as part of the original “wild and crazy guys” duo.  He also has some great moments as himself with other actors and the selection overall is well-picked.  Of course, it is far from complete and he is still showing up on the show, but it is impressive and one of the better compilations in the series.  Expect a second volume in a few years.


Political incorrectness permeates both programs, but that is the point.  These are too subversive to be offensive and have points that can only be made going down the avenues they go down.  Besides all the stars he is with on the TV show, he has a great pairing with Bernadette Peters, who always had a special chemistry with him.  They would soon take a larger risk with the feature film version of the deconstructionist musical Pennies From Heaven.  Both have aged well and in interesting ways since, reminding us of how cutting-edge Martin’s comedy could be and still often is.


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on The Jerk is a disappointment and is likely why the DVD side and Combo Disc idea were nixed.  This is often barley better than HD, telling us the master is too old.  The 1.33 x 1 and sometimes letterboxed 1.78 X 1 image on the SNL DVD sadly fares as well, despite most of the material being old analog NTSC video, though newer footage originates in HD.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is available on the SNL DVD, while the original theatrical mono sound of The Jerk has been upgraded to Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix that just bounces the mono around.  They both sound fine for their age and good enough to enjoy the jokes in both cases, but that 5.1 mix is nothing to get excited about, except that more advanced systems can skip Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS Neo 6, Logic 7 or any variants.  The Jerk offers a bonus clip and how to play “Tonight You Belong To Me” on a ukulele” while the SNL DVD has stills, bonus sketches and dress rehearsal segments.  That is not much for either release, but the main programs are funny enough to check out.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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