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I guess I just like liking things

By most accounts, this is the car that Steve will give out when asked for his autograph.

By most accounts, this is the card Steve will give out when asked for his autograph.

This list is prompted by my watching Father of the Bride recently. I’ve mentioned before just how much I like Steve Martin, but I was still surprised at how hard it was to order this list. I’m not sure that I agonized over it, but I certainly was stymied for a while. I’d guess if I made this list again in two months, I might come up with a different order.

10. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) – I watched this again recently with my wife (who had never seen it before), and it’s almost two different movies: there are the parts with Ruprecht, and then there is the rest of the movie. I doubt I will ever not laugh at the Ruprecht parts. (Side note: an older student in high school took to calling me Ruprecht for a time. I’m not sure how to take that.)

9. ¡Three Amigos! (1986) – I’m not a big Martin Short or Chevy Chase fan, but for some reason their work here with Steve is wonderful.

8. Bowfinger (1999) – Steve gets Eddie Murphy to do some of his best work in this movie, and it’s not the only one on this list to see Steve poking fun at the way Hollywood/L.A. works.

7. Shopgirl (2005) – Based on the book written by Steve, and one of the rare movies that I prefer to the book version. My favorite novel by Steve is The Pleasure of My Company, and I hear rumors now and then that it’ll eventually get filmed. Here’s hoping!

6. Father of the Bride (1991)/Father of the Bride Part II (1995) – Few people play “stressed dad” better than Steve, and it’s sometimes easy for people to forget how much of a  departure that was from his earlier comedy.

5. The Man with Two Brains (1983) – His character’s name is “Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr,” which should tell you a lot about this one. I still quote the “Pointy Birds” poem from time to time.

4. All of Me (1984) – I’m going from memory on this one because I can’t find a decent home video version of it to watch again. Steve and Lily Tomlin are fantastic together, and I do mean “together,” since they inhabit the same body for most of the movie. Steve’s attempt at walking when he’s first half-possessed is one of the funniest bits of physical comedy you’re ever likely to see.

3. The Jerk (1979) – I know this one is supposed to be at the top of the list. It’s immensely quotable and Bernadette Peters is fantastic in it. I would love to see the two of them make another movie now. Somebody get on that.

2. L.A. Story (1991) – There are so many things I like about this movie that, by themselves, wouldn’t be much. When you add them all together, though… I love the magical sign, I love the comedic sketch-like scenes, I love the poking at L.A. culture (this, like all the best satire, helps you understand the culture better even while poking fun at it) – I just really like this movie.

1. Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) – Frustrated Steve Martin is Awesome Steve Martin. If I ever did a John Candy list, this one would be at the top of that one, too. The two of them together make this movie what it is, a hilarious and sweet road trip that you’d never want to take yourself.

Other mentions: 

  • The Muppet Movie (1979) – “Insolent Waiter” wins the award for my favorite Steve Martin role
  • Little Shop of Horrors (1986) – Not technically a “Steve Martin movie,” but still one of my favorite of his roles
  • Baby Mama (2008) – His New Age-y ponytailed boss cracks me up pretty much every time he’s on screen, and I think he and Tina Fey have great chemistry and should do more stuff together
  • The Big Year (2011) – I was surprised by how much I like this movie about birdwatching. Bonus: Jack Black not playing Jack Black
  • Grand Canyon (1991) – The first “serious” role I remember seeing Steve in. I don’t remember much about this movie other than how good I thought he did in a serious part (see also: The Spanish Prisoner)
  • My Blue Heaven (1990) – Steve’s mobster characterization isn’t for everybody, but the way he says “Because you could melt all this stuff” to Carol Kane’s character is so gleefully fantastic.
  • Parenthood (1989) – The first of his “dad roles”? I think so.
  • Roxanne (1987) – The scene where he comes up with 20 insults for himself is the highlight here.
  • Mixed Nuts (1994) – My least favorite Steve Martin movie. I have tried to like it, but I just can’t. Sorry, Steve :(

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