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DID YOU READ

The 10 essential Steve Martin comedies

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Steve Martin is a marvelously unique talent, in that he cut his teeth on wacky prop comedy, hit the big time with brilliantly stupid movies, and has aged into being a fiercely astute intellectual who can run the gamut between smart and dumb humor with relaxed ease. Lately, some of his movie choices have been somewhat less than well-received, but they help fund his art collection and his ability to spend a lot of time out on tour playing his banjo with various musical outfits. He’s won Emmys and Grammys. He’s truly one of a kind, and we shouldn’t ever forget the fantastically funny movies he’s made in the light of the Sgt. Bilkos.

Here’s a rundown of ten essential Steve Martin comedies that should help you understand how great the man is – and this doesn’t include his interesting dramas like “Shopgirl” and “The Spanish Prisoner,” or his surprising cameos in “The Muppet Movie” or “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” As an addendum, if you can track down the VHS copy of Steve Martin Live!, you can see him at the peak of his brilliant stand-up career – although it’ll be much easier to find his albums – Let’s Get Small and Wild and Crazy Guy.


1. “The Jerk” (1979)

The breakthrough film he wrote remains one of the best film comedies of all time, constantly managing to be intelligent and dopey at the same time. The meandering saga of the dim-witted but good-hearted Navin R. Johnson, born a poor black child, as he wanders the country never stops being absurdly hilarious. Working for Jackie Mason at a gas station, becoming the target of a deranged M. Emmett Walsh, becoming carnival personnel, falling for Bernadette Peters whose young nephew wears a t-shirt that says “Bull Shit” on it, stumbling into unimaginable riches, being brought low by Iron Balls McGinty… every moment has something sublimely ridiculous about it. Despite being able to hire his own personal disco dancers, this comedy remains ageless.


2. “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” (1982)

This was a concept that wouldn’t work in lesser hands, but Carl Reiner had proven how well he understood Steve with “The Jerk,” and thus, splicing a bunch of old film noir flicks together around him to craft a ridiculous soft-boiled detective story works hilariously well. The adventures of Rigby Reardon and his mysterious and stunning bullet-sucking femme fatale Rachel Ward also include appearances by Humphrey Bogart, Vincent Price, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and every star from the 1930s you could think of, and it’s a pitch-perfect satire of all those beloved tropes. One of the best lines in the narration that exemplifies that: “Carlotta was the kind of town where they spell trouble T-R-U-B-I-L, and if you try to correct them, they kill you.”


3. “All Of Me” (1984)

Steve Martin’s gift for physical comedy is on full display in this fantasy comedy wherein he’s an attorney who has to share half of his body with the spirit of a rotten, eccentric malcontent played by Lily Tomlin. Arguing with himself in public, the right half of his body walking like a dignified woman and the left as his normal self – it’s got plenty of the zaniness that made him famous, but the deeper relationship between the two people in one body also marks the beginning of his maturation into more intelligent, realistic character work. Yes, even though he’s half-possessed by a ghost.


4. “Three Amigos” (1986)

While it was initially greeted with mixed reviews, the undeniable goofiness of this team-up of Steve Martin, Martin Short and Chevy Chase has endured as a beloved favorite. Three washed up cowboys from the silent film era journey to Mexico to work with the infamous (that means “more than famous!”) El Guapo, not realizing they have actually been called upon to save the innocent town of Santa Poco from the nefarious shenanigans of a criminal they believe to be a showman, and the result is funny hijinks with a bit less of a manic tone than some of Martin’s earlier comedies. Still, the plethora of weirdness is wonderful, such as when Chevy Chase’s Dusty Bottoms accidentally kills the Invisible Swordsman.


5. “Roxanne” (1987)

The maturation continues with a contemporized adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, featuring Steve playing C.D. Bales, a fireman somewhere in the Pacific Northwest who’s charming, smart, tough, quick-witted and eloquent, and yet sports a nose so cartoonishly large that it hinders his confidence with women – Daryl Hannah in particular – despite the fact that everyone in town loves the guy (and knows better than to bring up the schnoz). However, he woos her through a handsome and friendly, yet dopey fellow fireman passing the words off as his own. It’s romantic comedy with a much less obnoxious feel than much of what falls in this genre, showing just how well Martin can step into the shoes of a leading man without being boring.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…