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Most Funny Movie Ever Made: The Jerk

James Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, historian, and author of three non-fiction books. James enjoys people, music, film, and reading

COMEDY AND TRAGEDY

COMEDY AND TRAGEDY

Most Funny Movie Ever Made

There are hundreds of candidates for the Most Funny Movie Ever Made. There are those who declare Some Like It Hot orThe Producers or Raising Arizona or Animal House or Arthur or Beverly Hills Cop to be the funniest movie ever made. My own personal list of candidates for funniest film includes: Airplane!; Caddyshack; Being There; and Lost in America, but the funniest movie ever made is: The Jerk.

The Jerk was released thirty years ago, and was the first feature film ever made by Steve Martin. It was made for a mere $4.5M, and it grossed more than that in its first weekend. Animal House was the only other film that had accomplished this at that time.

I have seen many published lists of the funniest movies ever made, and The Jerk consistently finds itself listed between 20th and 89th. I don't know their criteria, but I keep it simple: how many times do you laugh out loud during the film?

most-funny-movie-ever-made

The Jerk

The Jerk is a rags-to-riches-to-rags story, in which Steve Martin plays a dim-witted character named Navin Johnson. Navin believes he was born a poor black child, that he is part of a large and loving family, and that this is where he belongs, but it is revealed to him as a young adult that he is in fact, adopted.

One utterly hilarious scene shows the whole family playing music and dancing, and and it's obvious that Navin is the only one present with absolutely no sense of rhythm.

His mother breaks the news thus: "Navin, it's your birthday, and it's time you knew. You're not our natural-born child." Navin responds, "I'm not? You mean I'm gonna STAY this color?" His mother soothes him by saying, "Navin, I'd love you if you were the color of a baboon's ass."

THE JERK AT HOME WITH HIS FAMILY

THE JERK AT HOME WITH HIS FAMILY

THE JERK HITS THE ROAD

THE JERK HITS THE ROAD

The Truth About Life

Navin decides to leave his family, and he heads off to the big city to seek his fame and fortune. Before he leaves, his father gives him some wise words of wisdom: "Lord loves a workin' man; don't trust whitey; see a doctor and get rid of it."

SHINOLA

He Hates These Cans!

Navin gets his first job at a service station in the town where he's living. The most exciting moment of his life, up until this juncture, is when he sees his name in the phone book for the first time.

When a crazy sniper randomly picks Navin out at the service station, and starts shooting at him with a high-powered rifle, Navin misunderstands what is happening. Navin says of the sniper: "He hates these cans. Stay away from the cans."

THE JERK FIND HIMSELF IN THE PHONE BOOK

THE JERK FIND HIMSELF IN THE PHONE BOOK

While Navin is working at the gas station, he helps a customer fix a problem with his glasses that eventually leads him to fame and uber-riches as an inventor. Before his invention is produced, marketed and makes him a kingpin of the business world, he runs off with a carnival. While there Navin, still a virgin, is seduced by a biker chick and this experience makes him believe he has finally found his "special purpose" that his grandmother told him all people have.

Navin's work in the carnival was as a weight guesser. The biker chick lures him into her filthy trailer. Navin says: "What a great place! You know, you can tell so much about a person from the way they live. Just looking around here I can tell...you're a genuinely dirty person."

The biker chick tells him she wants to guess his weight and grabs his buttocks. Navin says, "Hey! You're really trying to be accurate!"

Scroll to Continue

After this experience, Navin writes about it to his grandmother back home in Mississippi. Grandma reads his letter aloud to his parents: "My dear family, guess what. Today I found out what my special purpose is for. Gosh what a great time I had. I wish my whole family could have been here with me. Maybe some other time as I intend to do this a lot. Every chance I get. I think next week I'll be able to send some more money as I may have extra work. My friend Patty promised me a blow job. Your loving son, Navin."

Upon hearing the letter, his father says, "That Patty must be a sweet girl." His mother adds, "God bless her."

The biker chick tattoos his name on her buttocks and when she shows this to him he says, "First I get my name in the phone book and now I'm on your ass. You know, I'll bet more people see that than the phone book."

Navin soon meets his true love, Marie, played by Bernadette Peters. Peters was one of Martin's best friends and he wrote this part just for her to play. Martin said "The truth is that I wrote the part with Bernadette in mind, even though I really didn't know her that well at the time."

The Jerk Finds Love

Here I will present a piece of the dialogue between Navin R. Johnson and Marie:

Navin: "Now be totally honest. You do have a boyfriend don't you."
Marie: "Kind of."
Navin: "I know this is our first date, but do you think the next time you make love to your boyfriend, you could think of me?"
Marie: "Well I haven't made love to him yet."
Navin: "That's too bad. Do you think it's possible that someday you could make love with me and think of him?"
Marie: "Who knows, maybe you and he could make love and you could think of me."
Navin: "I'd be happy to be in there somewhere."

most-funny-movie-ever-made

Navin and Marie eventually marry and settle into an extravagantly rich lifestyle. But his invention, the Opti-Grab, has a flaw that leads to a class action suit that bankrupts Navin.

There is an interesting scene where Navin has been evicted from his mansion and has a hard time deciding which items are most important for him to keep as he heads out the door.

Navin says: "Well I'm gonna to go then. And I don't need any of this. I don't need this stuff, and I don't need you. I don't need anything except this. And that's it and that's the only thing I need, is this. I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that's all I need. And that's all I need too. I don't need one other thing, not one - I need this. The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches, for sure. And this. And that's all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair."

The Jerk has a happy ending, which I won't spoil for those who haven't see the film. I love comedies and believe comedy to be up there with sculpture as the most difficult of arts. No movie has made me laugh out loud as often as The Jerk.

Comments

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 08, 2011:

Steve Lensman— It is an honor to have you visit my Hub. I know that you are one of our resident movie gurus.

I am glad you were relaxed enough here to repeat those lines from "The Jerk." :D

Thank you for the voted up and funny. I appreciate the visitation and I will be over soon to check out your latest Hubs.

Steve Lensman from Manchester, England on November 07, 2011:

"'I slit the sheet, the sheet I slit, and on the slitted sheet I sit.' There. I've never been relaxed enough around anyone to say that."

James, one of my favourite comedies, you've got me in the mood to watch it again. Cheers.

Voted Up and Fanny... sorry, Funny. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 07, 2011:

Storytellersrus— I very much enjoyed the films you mentioned too. Steve Martin is quite the humorist. You seem pretty popular here on HubPages. I like you!

Thank you for visiting and commenting.

Barbara from Stepping past clutter on November 04, 2011:

Roxanne is probably my favorite Steve Martin movie. I also liked his Father of the Bride series. His eyes always look so sincere even as he is making the most inane comments. I couldn't really sit through The Jerk, despite all its hoopla :). But I do not run with the most popular crowd!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 13, 2011:

olgakhumlo— If you haven't seen it, then you must. I have watched it maybe 12 times—and still laugh out loud.

Thank you for visiting my Hub. I appreciate your gracious presence.

olga khumlo from Mira Road Mumbai India on April 11, 2011:

Well documented!

I too love Steve Martin movies ,they're absolutely hilarious.I must watch the 'Jerk'.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 05, 2011:

SAM— Thanks, man. I'm glad you enjoyed this film and this Hub. I appreciate the thumbs up.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 05, 2011:

Online Movies Megavideo— Thank you for visiting John. I am glad we agree. :D

James

SAM on February 05, 2011:

Nice post dude, it really best comedy thumps up :)

Online Movies Megavideo on February 05, 2011:

I agree this is the funniest movie i have ever seen, just love this movie.

john

http://watchmoviesonlin9.blogspot.com/

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 18, 2010:

Cmerritt— I simply love this movie. So many parts stick with you through the years. I am glad you watched it with your daughter, and that you both laughed. Some comedy does not age well, as times change. I think the Jerk will always be funny.

Thanks for visiting and commenting. I'm glad we share a good sense of humor.

Chris Merritt from Pendleton, Indiana on November 18, 2010:

I introduced the "Jerk" to my daughter a couple of weekends ago.

She does have the same sense of humor as I do, and laughed most of the way through it. She has been telling her friends about this movie, and they have never heard of it. She is going to take it to her friends house this weekend to watch it. I'm not sure if she will get the response from it as she did.

It really IS a classic. I laughed just as much this time as I have the other twenty times I have watched it over the years.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 14, 2010:

grannie sharon— I am glad we agree. Some comedies age better than others. I watched "Funny Farm" the other day and it is still hilarious. I also enjoyed the first two films you mentioned but I haven't seen "Hangover." I'll check that out based on your recommendation.

Thank you for reading my Hub and leaving your fine comments. I look forward to reading your work. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

granniesharon on November 13, 2010:

"The Jerk" truly was one of the funniest movies ever. I loved Steve Martin then, he's not quite as funny to me now for some reason. On my list of funny favorites also "Young Frankenstein" and "Dumb and Dumber" which was indeed so dumb and "Hangover". I really don't find humor or talent in watching people use vulgarity. Truly talented comics express themselves in so many other ways. I love to laugh and find humor in all kinds of places. I am complimented that you are following my hub! Blessings!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on August 22, 2010:

jandee— Hello! Alrighty then. No intrusion. I'm glad you came and I enjoyed your remarks.

James

jandee from Liverpool.U.K on August 21, 2010:

Hello James,at last we have something in common !! Steve Martin is fab.......God ! I feel like I am intruding!! You have such a 'gigantic' audience, respectful regards,jandee.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 09, 2010:

Juliette Morgan— You are quite welcome, my dear. I love to laugh, too! And I agree with you. A funny movie is hard to find. I have not seen "Rat Race." Thank you for that recommendation. I will rent it soon. "The Road to . . ." movies are still funny. I watched one just a year or two ago. I've seen most of them at one time or another. You look good for your "age." Whatever that is. :D

Juliette Morgan on June 09, 2010:

Hi James, thanks for this recommendation, I love to laugh and am often disappointed with movies billed as comedy and just not delivering. I like Steve Martin. Watched "Rat Race" with John Cleese a few weeks ago and happily laughed uncontrollably throughout - see HD Cyr has already mentioned this and agree totally. I used to laugh as a child at Bob Hope - "Road to Morrocco/Road to...." series of films - shows my age!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on May 30, 2010:

deepthought— I am glad we are in agreeance! I agree with you that Mel Brooks produced many memorable and hilarious films.

Thank you for the nice compliment. I do love history and I am well pleased that I have found an audience for it.

Deep from In the middle of nowhere and worldwide but still that T.O.kid from da north of America on May 30, 2010:

James I have to agree with you on this one. The Jerk was a funny ass movie but I think you forgot another oldie but goodie and that was Mel Brook's History of the world part 1 and Hear no evil see no evil ...by the way reading your hubs is like a whole day of history class but I'm here to learn and relearn so keep knocking them out the box

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on May 21, 2010:

theherbivorehippi— I am sure you will laugh with The Jerk. It's nice to from you, my fellow Michigander. :D

theherbivorehippi from Holly, MI on May 20, 2010:

How have I never seen The Jerk? I'm adding to my Netflix list right now. I agree with the Airplane! choice for sure though!!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

Gerg--- Thank you for reading and commenting!

Gregory S Williams from California on February 22, 2010:

Great choice - timeless movie!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 20, 2010:

bat115--- I'm glad we are in agreeance. I liked "Bowfinger." Thanks for your comments and compliments. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community.

Tim from Los Angeles, CA on February 19, 2010:

I have to say I think you are right that The Jerk is the funniest movie ever made. I must say it has been a while since I seen it, mind you. but reading those lines from the movie wrote and the clips. I can't stop laughing.

Since you like Martin and Eddie Murphy, what did you think of Bowfinger? If you saw it, that is.

Good hub.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 19, 2010:

tonymac04--- I am also a Peter Sellers fan but I don't think I have seen the party. I will make it a point to do so soon. What's new pussycat? Is that Woody Allen and Barbara Streisand?

You are welcome and thank you for coming by and leaving your comments.

Love and Peace

James

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 19, 2010:

Allan McGregor--- Thank you Allan for coming by and leaving us your usual brilliant analysis! :D

Tony McGregor from South Africa on January 18, 2010:

I have not seen this movie I have to say. I'm a Peter Sellers fan myself - I think The Party must be for me the funniest. Some Like It Hot is also a favourite. One movie that I loved, but it doesn't seem to get a good press, is What's New Pussycat.

Anyway thanks for the Hub - great read.

Love and peace

Tony

Allan McGregor from South Lanarkshire on January 18, 2010:

If you've got it Baby, Flaunt It!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 14, 2010:

Allan McGregor— Yes, it is. I also have enjoyed Zero Mostel in his film roles. The Marx Brothers were huge. For New Year's Eve here a station ran every episode of the Three Stooges and they were hilarious. Especially Curly. Maybe I'll do a Hub on them. Thanks for coming by and chiming in.

Allan McGregor from South Lanarkshire on January 14, 2010:

A very subjective area. Yes, I like Steve Martin's films a lot, but the Marx Brothers still have me in tears, and I loved Zero Mostel in 'The Producers' and 'A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum'.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 13, 2010:

greensnob— Land of the Lost. That's brand new, no? I'll make a point of catching it. Ferrel is very funny. Laughing is surely therapeutic. No doubt about that. Thanks for coming back with the info.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 13, 2010:

Stan Fletcher— Here! Here! Thank you, Stan. I surely appreciate this visit from you and the compliment.

greensnob on January 13, 2010:

After writing to you, I went outside to make a fire in backyard and the newspaper had the movie listing for Will Ferrel's Land Of The Lost. Its about dinosaurs and Sleestaks. Still for me, anything that makes me cry when laughing is pure therapy.

Stan Fletcher from Nashville, TN on January 13, 2010:

Long live the Opti-Grab! Great hub. The Jerk is definitely in my top five.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 12, 2010:

greensnob— I do enjoy many Will Ferrel films, he was a hoot as the NASCAR driver and in Zoolander. As a broadcaster he was even better. I will look for the time travel movie. Thanks for the tip. And I appreciate you for visiting and commenting on my Hub. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community.

greensnob on January 12, 2010:

Mr. Watkins, I love stupid humor too. I press the Blockbuster attendants for their evaluation of stupid humor to find those DVDs. Add to the Jerk, My Blue Heaven and House Sitter and of course someone here mentioned Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. You will never have another rainy day with those in your library. Will Ferrel has gained some ground with a an unsuspected scene in one of the worst movies he ever made. He is genius with this one scene that made me start to comprehend that he was really messing over the audience totally by proving that you can make the worst movie ever and people will still come to see it. It was that time travel movie that came out a year or so ago. Worth the $5.00 if you can find it.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 07, 2010:

Farooq— Thank you very much.

Farooq on January 06, 2010:

Great hub, graet information! This a complete movie here!

http://www.wewatchmoviesfree.net

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 05, 2010:

H.D.Cyr— "He hates these cans" is one of my favorite parts of the film. I know the Holy Grail movie but I don't think I have seen the other two. I will certainly check them out. I appreciate the recommendations. It is hard to find really funny films.

Thanks for the visit and welcome to HubPages!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 05, 2010:

ActingTips— Well that's OK. I am not familiar with Dane Cook by name anyway. I'll have to check out that movie. Thanks for the tip—no pun intended. :)

H.D.Cyr on January 05, 2010:

I think I was nine or ten the first time I watched this movie. I laughed so hard at the "he hates the cans" part my stomach hurt.

A few of my favorites are "Monty Pythons and the Holy Grail" (the witch scene is my favorite), "Fierce Creatures" (if you love John Cleese, and animals you will love this movie) and "Rat Race" (also with John Cleese, guess I like John Cleese).

There are many others, as I too am a huge fan of comedy, but these are in my top ten.

ActingTips on January 05, 2010:

Steve Martin is just not funny for me. I like the acting of Dane Cook, especially in "Good luck chuck". Mathew Perry is also a great comedy actor.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 05, 2010:

ipodmovies—I have read about this film but haven't seen it. I will make a point to do so. Thanks!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 05, 2010:

Chris Cook— I just put Ronnie Milsap of my list of future Hubs, which number about 30. I'll let you know when I get it done. It may be a few weeks. I am working on three now. Milsap is a fascinating story. Thanks for the great idea.

ipodmovies on January 05, 2010:

The Hangover was the funniest movie ever made to date!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 04, 2010:

Dim Flaxenwick— You are welcome. I don't think it will disappoint you. I appreciate you coming by to visit.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 04, 2010:

drpastorcarlotta— Airplane! is hilarious. I think you'll like the Jerk. Thank you for the visitation and compliment. Happy 2010 to you doctor pastor!

Chris Cook on January 04, 2010:

James I wish I had time to do a hub on the great Ronnie Milsap, and embed (I don't know how quite frankly) his great, great hit song "Almost Like A Song." James,this guy,

congenitally blind, a child prodigy, mastered classical piano as a child, epitomized the word genius. I used to drive by his house in Nashville. Would you mind doing a story on Ronnie Milsap? If not no problem. I just thought you would be able to do a great hub on him. Thanks!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 04, 2010:

Bo Heamyan— Clever handle there.

Thank you for your fine and interesting comments. I am going to come over and visit your pages soon. You have good titles. Maybe tomorrow. I just got home tonight from vacation.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 04, 2010:

storytellersrus— You are welcome. Thank you for coming by and expressing your opinion. I haven't seen "Up." I'll make it a point to do so. I've heard about it. Zoolander? I just watched it again yesterday with my son. It's goofy but it's also quite funny methinks.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 04, 2010:

febriedethan— I think it is Steve Martin at his best. Check it out. You are welcome and thank you. Happy 2010 to you!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 04, 2010:

Chris Cook— Thank you for your kind words. I apologize for the delay in responding. I took a week off from computers. Now I am back refreshed.

Favorite Hubber!? Well, sir, I am honored to be so. Thank you very much for that. I'll try not to let you down. I have some Hubs in the pipeline finally.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 04, 2010: