Monday, April 28, 2008

I'm a big fan of bloggers posting screenshots from films. So I thought I would start doing the same. Here's a sequence from "the jerk" that I've always found funny.

So here they are. Bernadette Peters and Steve Martin in Carl Reiner's "the jerk."

See how the kiss is the easy laugh? But Steve's look at the end is what sells the entire sequence for me.

It works on a lot of levels, building on the archetype of the hollywood kiss. It manages to be humorous, this weird gag of sorts, as well as oddly character-driven. Finally, the best part of this gag is the last shot, a look that requires a strong performance to be funny.

I'll make a huge generalization here--these days nearly every big studio animation has some sort of romance. Mostly, these love interests interact in some kind of playful, awkward banter. That's fine, and more often than not it's hilarious. But I wish there were more moments like these in large animated films (maybe not quite as weird?). silent, physical interaction goes a long way. And it can still be hilarious and emotional. Can't wait to see how it's done in wall-e.

It's not an easy thing to do. I'll get off my soapbox. What do you guys think?


Anton said...

I didn't even laugh at the kiss. I think the look at the end is the punchline. And that's why they picked Steve Martin for the role. Very few other actors can produce the same effect, let alone animated characters. Thinking in terms of big studios, challenging things are usually substituted with things that make more money (except maybe pixar which manages to do both). Sorry for the long post.

Blake said...

I laughed very hard after the first Steve Martin reaction shot and then kept laughing throughout... a testament to the magic of editing between images and performances, I presume

Tim Rauch said...

peters is all dolled up like a neary character.

i know this might be sacreligious, but i actually didnt really enjoy the jerk. couldn't make it through the whole thing! still, this was a funny scene.

stephen said...

I'm not going to lie--I watched this movie a lot as a kid. It sort of set the standard for humor in my family, for better or worse.

That being said, it's not for everyone, but I thought this scene was pretty accessible.

J.D. Amato said...

Steve Martin just has that intangible quality that will always make me laugh-- it's his ignorant arrogance or something-- hilarious.