Top 5: Steve Martin Movies

I wanted to ease myself into the Top 5 swing with this list, which itself was actually the inspiration for the series. The Steve Martin Quintillogy is a group that I’ve always considered to be the Steve Martin movies. All of the rest are just movies that he was in. So there wasn’t an awful lot of deliberation in compiling this list, beyond a brief scan of IMDb to make sure I didn’t accidentally leave anything out.

5. "Hi. My name is Bob. I’ll be your robber."

I know I’ll probably get hate mail for putting L.A. Story at the lowly position of number five, but the truth is simply that I haven’t seen this movie in so long it’s a struggle to remember specifically why it’s so good. All I have is a vague feeling of having been entertained by the sometimes-surreal commentary on the shallowness of life in L.A. If I was going to do a proper review and, you know, actually research my choices this would have been the first of the five that I watched.

4. "Wherever liberty is threatened, you will find…"

I watched ¡Three Amigos! for the first time as quite a young child, and I remember specifically learning off the speech and the odd shoulder-slapping, hands-on-hips gyrating routine so that I could imitate the ‘heroes’ of this movie. This one was definitely aimed at kids, and it doesn’t quite make the grade anymore, if only by Martin’s standards. It’s still a quality movie, and worth anyone’s time to watch.

3. "You could de-emphasize your nose if you wore something larger, like… Wyoming."

The most straightforward of the five, in terms of its story, Roxanne still shines with some memorable moments. It starts brilliantly with the "I really admire your shoes" dialogue, but the comedy takes a back seat to the love story as the movie goes on. I’ve heard it said that if the shot is too close for you to be able to see all of Martin then you’re missing something; he does comedy with his entire body. Roxanne contains my favourite example of this style: CD buys a newspaper and starts to read it as he walks away. Then he lets out a yell and runs back to cram the newspaper back into the box he got it from.

2. "Man your drunk tests are hard!"

Absolutely the most surreal of the quintet, The Man with Two Brains was a very strong contender for the top spot. A love story between neurosurgeon Dr Hfuhruhurr and brain-in-a-jar Anne Uumellmahaye, this movie is hilarious as soon as you’ve heard the synopsis. The magnificent poem Oh Pointy Bird made its first appearance in this movie, and was later repeated (in part) in L.A. Story:

Oh pointy bird,
  Pointy pointy,
Anoint my head,

1. "Ruprecht, do you want the genital cuff?"

Barely better than the runner up, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels scrapes into the number-one position. It has style, it has wit, it has charm, but most importantly it has Ruprecht. It also has some classic scenes of physical comedy, in particular Michael Caine making it difficult for Steve Martin to fake paralysis by repeatedly hitting his legs with a cane. While not as saturated with comedy as The Man with Two Brains, Scoundrels has a more coherent story. Plus it was directed by Yoda.

And now to you: what are your favourites, what did i get wrong, what did I get right?


4 Replies to “Top 5: Steve Martin Movies”

  1. I think the best movie for both stars (John Candy) is Planes Trains and Automobiles. But LA story is easily at the bottom or the top depending on if you’ve lived in LA. The first few times I saw it I thought it was just funny, but after living there you realize what an absolute brilliant satire it is. Love Martin, Candy, Chase, Short Akroyd… etc. The greatest question is who is the Steve Martin for the current generation. My thoughts go to Will Ferrel, but I’d be interested in other thoughts.

  2. Surely Bowfinger makes the cut:

    “See that FedEx truck? Every day it delivers important papers to people all over the world. And one day, it is going to stop here, and a man is going to walk up and casually toss a couple of FedExes on my desk. And at that moment, we – and by we, I mean me – will be important.”

  3. I think the Steve Martin for the current generation is Steve Carrell: intelligence, poignancy, smarminess.

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