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The Jerk: 40th Anniversary Edition (1979) - Blu-ray Review

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The Jerk: 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray

Steve Martin’s The Jerk remains a comedy classic.  That is made clear thanks to Shout Select’s brand-new 2K transfer of the 1979 hit film.  Put this film in a time capsule already because, thanks to the vulgarity, the stupidity, and the damn sweet innocence of it all, there is no other comedy that is as successful as this film.  To quote John Lennon here, this film is the “the toppermost of the poppermost!” 

And I will fight (or at least kick and then run away quickly) anyone who suggests otherwise.

"Put this film in a time capsule already because, thanks to the vulgarity, the stupidity, and the damn sweet innocence of it all, there is no other comedy that is as successful as this film."

Directed by Carl Reiner (The Dick Van Dyke Show) and co-starring Bernadette Peters, M. Emmet Walsh, and Jackie Mason, The Jerk – based around Martin’s simple stand-up line “It wasn’t always easy for me; I was born a poor black child” – did more to promote Martin’s star appeal and his comedic longevity than many realize.  It is a film that is as equally vulgar as it is super sweet and, almost predicting Martin’s path in the entertainment business, features a duet that is as pure gold as any of his current recordings with Edie Brickell.

In the film, Steve Martin plays Navin R. Johnson, a white boy raised by a black family and, as he struggles to maintain a natural rhythm.  The clueless lad can’t even clap right.  It is quite obvious that he is adopted – his family being badass performers of the blues themselves – but Navin remains clueless as to his genetics.  Already, we are laughing as he struggles to fit in. {googleads}

And then one day, he decides to strike out on his own.  His dancing feet have him shuffling his way to St. Louis where a dog starts barking outside his motel door.  He sees this as a warning that the motel is on fire and he must get the other guests out.  False alarm, but none of that stops Navin from journeying forward to be a clueless gas attendant where he fixes slippery glasses for a customer (who promises to split the royalties from the tweak with him), gets randomly picked by a serial killer as a target, and then, while on the run from that crazed killer, he becomes a carnival weight guesser and discovers, quite hilariously, what his SPECIAL PURPOSE is after having sex for the first time.

But it is Marie Kimble Johnson (Peters) who steals his heart.  Only she wants more financial security in her life.  Broken and without any hope in the world, it is the news of this new invention for glasses, called the Opti-Grab, that changes his life for the better and then for the worse thanks to stop-motion director Carl Reiner.  The design made his eyes cross.  And he’s not the other one.

The Jerk: 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray

Will Navin survive the fall out from the invention?  That is the story of The Jerk.  A film that celebrates the rises and the falls of one hapless loser who can’t find the right beat to move and groove to.    

So, in a series of vignettes, the story of Navin R. Johnson unfolds in a righteous and very funny manner.  Co-written by Carl Gottlieb and Michael Elias, the film also features a wonderfully sweet rendition of “Tonight You Belong to Me” performed with banjo and ukulele thanks to Martin and Peters.  It is merely ONE of the unforgettable moments in this classic comedy.

Sometimes, beginning your career with a stupid arrow stuck through your head, is pretty damn ingenious.  The Jerk proves why.

5 beers

The Jerk: 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray

MPAA Rating: R.
94 mins
: Carl Reiner
Steve Martin, Carl Gottlieb
Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Catlin Adams
From rags to riches... to rags.
Memorable Movie Quote: "He hates these cans. Stay away from the cans."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 14, 1979
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 11, 2018
Synopsis: The Jerk stars Steve Martin as Navin Johnson, the adopted son of a poor black sharecropping family in Mississippi. When he learns that the world is a much bigger place than he'd ever imagined, Navin sets out on a quest to find his "special purpose." His adventures lead him to encounter a would-be assassin, jobs in carnivals and gas stations, a life-saving dog, romance with the girl of his dreams and more money than he could ever spend. But his life in the clouds may come crashing down when the source of his new fame and fortune creates disastrous side effects.


The Jerk: 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray


Blu-ray Details:

40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- December 11, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Shout Select brings The Jerk back to life on blu-ray for its 40th Anniversary thanks to a brand new 2K transfer.  The polished visual upgrade from its original DVD release is a winner. The new transfer showcases the draw of the cityscape with a nice, scenic beauty of its nightlife.  The film is quite crisp and expressive with its HD upgrade. The film is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Nicely saturated, there are no dents in its new HD armor. Colors are strong throughout and are particularly memorable with their inclusion of details and strong edges. Black levels are clearly defined, too. Shadows are detailed. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is solid and aggressive.



  • While highly recommended, it is sad that there are no commentaries for the film.

Special Features:

The 40th Anniversary Edition of The Jerk is made complete with NEW interviews from Carl Reiner and Steve Martin, co-writers Michael Elias and Carl Gottlieb, a featurette on how to play Tonight You Belong To Me, and other featurettes.

  • NEW Remastered from a Brand-New 2K Transfer
  • NEW A Conversation with Steve Martin and Carl Reiner
  • NEW A Conversation with Writers Michael Elias and Carl Gottlieb
  • Learn How to Play "Tonight You Belong To Me"
  • The Lost Film Strips of Father Carlos Las Vegas De Cordova
  • Trailers & Radio Spots


The Jerk: 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray

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