12 Best Steve Martin Movies You Must See

September 12, 2017
12 min read

A couple of months back, I decided to watch ‘The Jerk (1979)’ for the first time. Acclaimed film director Stanley Kubrick had called it his favorite comedy, which was the base cause of my attraction. What I got was more than just a good film. Through this picture, I developed an immediate interest in its star and writer Steve Martin’s entire filmography. How I wish to see another great comedy in theaters written by this legend, because it has been far too long. As an actor and comedian, few others have displayed the expressiveness and charm visible in their characters like Martin has. Even when handling roles that should come of as unlikable, his signature guarantees a connection with the viewer. With excellent comedic timing and energy, Steve Martin only outdoes his already excellent self with his terrific writing skills. Every screenplay he’s written is funny, and I find it hard to not laugh when his memorable and punchy lines come through on screen. Here is the list of top 12 Steve Martin movies, many of which he wrote the script for as well.


12. The Man With Two Brains (1983)

The collaborations between Steve Martin and legendary director Carl Reiner have always been a thing to behold. One of their most memorable works is ‘The Man With Two Brains’, a comedy in which Martin plays a brain surgeon who falls in love with a woman as well as a dismembered brain. The absurdity in the humor is prevalent throughout the picture, which is filled with sight gags that are both obvious and subtle. I think his performance here is the funniest Martin has ever been in his entire career. Kathleen Turner, who plays the femme fatale co-star gives a performance that is both sensual and comedic, playing a woman who seems to be innocent and charming on the outside, while being evil and manipulative on the inside. If you think about it, the jokes here are based on complete nonsense, and it’s as stupid as it is hilarious. If you’re a fan of wacky, crazy films, then you’re gonna have a great time with ‘The Man With Two Brains’!


11. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Though I don’t think I appreciate this picture as much as many others do, I still think it’s a fine comedy that’s super entertaining and energetic. Martin plays a role of lesser prominence than the other pictures mentioned on this list, but I have to say that he kills it every time he’s shown on-screen. A sort-of homage to the B movies released during the Roger Corman era (and a sort-of faithful adaptation of one), ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ stars Rick Moranis in the lead as a nerdy man who grows a man-eating plant that aids him in achieving things he never could before. Told in the form of a musical, I find almost all the songs here to be very catchy, fun, and memorable. The film in itself is presented in a completely “out-there” manner, including outrageous characters doing astounding things, and the sci-fi feature has become a cult classic in the eyes of many.


10. Father of the Bride (1991)

In the best comedies that Steve Martin has played a role in, it is usually always his character that seems to touch us emotionally. The same is the case with this rom-com that in retrospect isn’t anything out of the ordinary. It tells the story of a man who starts going through a frantic phase when he is made to cope with the fact that his oldest daughter is soon going to get married. Though her partner is a gentle and caring man, he is completely oblivious to this. What follows is a comedy so hilarious that it rarely makes any sense, but its heart provides for all the warmth that you get from the picture. It is a sweet film, and Martin plays his role extremely well. Like I said before though, it isn’t a film that tries something new or fresh, but what it does do is take a familiar situation and make out of it an extremely entertaining family comedy that can melt your heart while making you howl with laughter at the same time.


9. Roxanne (1987)

I think many of us have been forced to face the sad situation brought on by the way we look, which contrasts with our approachable and/or likable personality. Such is the case with C.D. Bales, a man with an unusually large nose, who seems to be doomed in his search for true love. Written by and starring Steve Martin, this is a romantic comedy that presents situational and verbal humor as well as it does slapstick, and was upon release both a critical and commercial hit. The picture was able to connect with people, and the original love story presented worked well with the masses. I’ve said this in the introduction, but I believe Steve Martin is one of the best comedy screenwriters in the history of American cinema, and this is one of his best works. Though his performance is charismatic and likable, I believe his talents as a writer shine more brightly in this feature.


8. L.A. Story (1991)

Although many of Martin’s films are a showcase of his incredible knack for comedy, it’s probably ‘L.A. Story’ where we see his intelligence really shine through. Sporting a great screenplay by Martin himself and a soundtrack that is extremely addictive, this comedy drama has a plot that may sound rather surreal upon a first listen. It has to do with a weatherman who receives romantic advice from a freeway board in 1990s Los Angeles. Although ridiculous, the picture has a charming sense about it in the way it handles the attraction Harry Telemacher (Martin) has with an English newspaper reporter. In the midst of all of this is the film’s basic theme, which seems to be poking fun at, finding faults in, and celebrating the city in which its events take place. Steve Martin has said in many interviews since that this picture is his way of paying homage to Los Angeles, and I find it to be a beautiful way to do so.


7. All of Me (1984)

Another excellent feature directed by Carl Reiner, ‘All of Me’ is not just a laugh-out-loud comedy. It is also a film with a somber side brought on mainly by the relatable, likable, and extremely memorable characters in this equally bright and realistic story (with a little bit of a fantastical side to it, in light of the events that occur). Having to do with a dying millionaire whose soul gets transferred into the body of her living lawyer (Steve Martin), the film presents the strange occurrences that happen when two minds are placed in one body. This allows for a lot of physical and verbal comedy to take place, and all of that is handled beautifully by Martin and Lily Tomlin. Tomlin has got a comparatively smaller role to play, and it is Martin who carries most of the picture by himself. Thankfully, he gives one of his best performances here, in a film that’s so good that you’ll want to see it twice.

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