Saturday, August 12, 2017
THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS (1983)
Directed By: Carl Reiner
Written By: Steve Martin, George Gipe & Carl Reiner
Cinematography By: Michael Chapman
Editor: Bud Molin
Cast: Steve Martin, Kathleen Turner, David Warner, Paul Benedict, James Cromwell, Earl Boen, Jeffrey Combs, Jenny Gago, Stephanie Kramer
Recently widowed Doctor Michael Hfuhruhurr, the world's greatest neurosurgeon, injures Dolores Benedict in a car accident. He operates on her and saves her life using a technique of his own invention: cranial screw-top brain entry. As Benedict recovers, Hfuhruhurr falls in love with her and they are soon married. However, Benedict is only interested in Hfuhruhurr's money and Hfuhruhurr still yearns for his previous wife. They travel to Vienna to attend a medical conference where Hfuhruhurr finally divorces Dolores, meets a mysterious Doctor Alfred Necessiter and becomes entangled in a series of murders committed by The Elevator Killer.
I remember this film being more better from youth. I used to watch this film all the time. I thought it was a great companion piece and just as funny as Steve martin's other starring film role THE JERK. Watching it all these years later THE JERK is still funnier this film is more inspired.
Even though again collaborating with comedic legend Carl Reiner who co-writes and directs this film. Here they both seem to be aiming their comedy this time. Even if it comes across as broad at times.
The film represents it's era. All of the actors are game and throw themselves into the roles. Most importantly though it shows the creative dawn of a comedian. Where they are not and we in Hollywood and can write their own ticket. Especially if they are given power behind the scenes to present their comedic persona. Usually early in their career they are more unhinged. As they are more hungry and have not as much to lose. So here with success under his belt. Steve Martin is more unhinged.
Almost like a loony tunes character he has the skills and like ability of more a Bugs Bunny, but really is like Daffy Duck. Confident, energetic and ego centric. More an annoyance for those around him, but also taking a lot and being the target of the jokes. While having to suffer through embarrassment. Just as it seems Daffy did whenever paired with bugs. You could credit him as a Yosemite Sam or Elmer Fudd, but Martin actually wins most of the time and is the comedic center and star. (Plus he isn't usually a stereotype or villain, but fits into the average white guy role) Bugs bunny was always cool and always won. While martin's characters usually win in the end. They seem to have to take punishment to get there. Maybe porky pig though he always came off as a side kick type character. Though he does have the sweetness and having triumphing through embarassment to achieve success and peace. Though like daffy there hasn't been a female counterpart for him.
I miss films like this, when they could still be considered comedy. As the humor here is abstract and partly parody though also contemporary for the time it was made. It has spoof elements but is not trapped in a spoof framework of having to make fun of everything in the genre or film it is poking fun at. As it seems that modern comedies seem to have to fit into a specific comedic category and can't be a range of things or all things. As long as it is funny.
While this film is still funny, it's not as funny as I remember. It's not bad just a bit disappointing. It's sort of like when recently watching KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE. It was still funny if dated, but not as good as I remember. Nostalgia which i usually like to stay in. Isn't quite as strong these days when it comes to certain films.
One of the reasons I might have enjoyed it might have been the random nudity and sexual nature of the film.
Steve Martin co-wrote the film and this was one of his early films where he was more an ironic and silly performer. That some do is remember him as. Before he turned into lore and adult and intellectual type of comedian and actor. Here he appears to have fun and seems to more know what his audience wants and expects. Where as after this he appeared in many comedic classics but again seems more an actor for hire who brings his gifts to the roles and not as original or inspired as in this film. Where it comes off effortless but seems like he is not trying to prove anything an seems more in his element. As he shows it in his energy throughout the film.
Kathleen turner turns in a more comedic turn of her sexpot femme fatale fame from the film BODY HEAT and she is a game performer in this film. Even if her character is more an idea than really having any motivating factor. She seems just as willing to be silly and funny as Steve Martin though her role feels like a bit of a stereotype. This is only her second film after her sultry turn in her debut film BODY HEAT. The film offers some inspired ridiculous bits. Such as screw top heads for less messy brain surgery. Cats coming out of nowhere constantly. The really difficult sobriety test (that seems designed to show off Steve Martin's already impressive physical skills) the hooker with the annoying voice.
The film works as a murder mystery, a science fiction film, a goofy someday and a romantic comedy. The film seems a little aloof but comes out in a tight package that might seem rambling though is actually designed. As if anything the movie comes off as silly above all else. Though through all this even with it's rough edge at times the film comes off as sweet.
If you are a Steve Martin fan you will enjoy the film as it is one of his better films. I believe this was the second film that I remember seeing him in. As my introduction to him was the movie ALL OF ME (other than a cameo in THE MUPPET MOVIE) as after those films I distinctly remember him in ROXANNE, THE THREE AMIGOS and PARENTHOOD.
Kathleen turner is outrageous in her role this is only her second movie performance. She kind of plays a more comedic and obvious version of the same character from her first movie BODY HEAT.
This is the second d of four movie collaborations between Carl Reiner and Steve Martin the others being THE JERK, ALL OF ME and DEAD MEN DON'T WEAR PLAID
Here especially is where Steve Martin reminds one of bugs bunny he isn't afraid to act silly but you always feel he is not only in on it but enjoys it as he lambs it and does it. He always seems to come out on top and like he is communicating to the audience throughout. Though he also has a bit of Daffy Duck. As he is manic but also is not afraid to show his weakness and have things blow up in his face due to ego. You could count some porky pig as more a simple shy guy just trying to get along until brought into these outrageous situations but goes perfectly within them to be just as zany.
The film I used to believe was a comedy classic. While I still believe it is funny and definitely should be seen. I watch and believe more as average, but also one of the last of the classic Steve Martin persona type. As he continued to write films. Most starring himself it seems that with each one he started to strip away the past personas. Maybe as a sign that the was maturing and growing up.