The Jerk: 26th Anniversary Edition

The Jerk: 26th Anniversary Edition (1997)
Universal Home Video
Cast: Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Catlin Adams, Jackie Mason, Mabel King
Extras: Featurette, Theatrical Trailer

It’s great to see films from my childhood getting much needed attention on the DVD format, especially ones that seem to hold a sort of ’classic’ status for nostalgic reasons, and this film fits that bill.

Brought up by an all Black family, the very Caucasian Navin R. Johnson insists that he himself is also Black as he leaves his family in search of new life experiences and success in the classic comedy, ’The Jerk.’ Trying his hand at various jobs, Navin one day helps a stranger, with poorly fitting glasses, by altering them in such a way that corrects the situation, giving the glasses a more stable fit, causing the entrepreneurial fellow to tell Navin that the two of them could be very rich some day with this new ’invention’. While Navin attempts to romance Marie (Bernadette Peters), with rather hilarious results, he receives notice from the entrepreneur, inviting him to meet at his office. While there, Navin is presented with his first of many royalty payments from his invention, and that’s where his life begins to change. From owning his dream home, with three pools and an all-red billiard room complete with a stuffed camel, Navin and Marie begin to live a rather excessive and lavish lifestyle, until eventual problems arise from his now infamous ’Opti-grab’ invention.

Pairing up with director Carl Reiner, you will be entertained by some of the early performances of Steve Martin’s comedic genius in this simple and very silly at times comedy treasure.

Universal Home Entertainment presents ’The Jerk: 26th Anniversary Edition’ in a nicely produced anamorphic widescreen transfer displaying a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The print is quite clean and sharp throughout, with very minimal dirt artifacts noticed on the source print. There is grain evident in some scenes, but this is a characteristic of the original film stock and overall is not too distracting. Colors are well saturated to produce natural flesh tones, while blacks are rich and deep, which helps to provide good detail throughout the presentation.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack provides the film with adequate balance throughout to ensure a nice clean sounding presentation; Universal did a nice job presenting ’The Jerk’ in this completely restored 5.1 surround soundtrack, while including the original 2.0 Mono track as a nice nostalgic addition.

Available extra features include; ’Tonight You Belong to Me: Learn How to play this Classic Tune on the Ukulele’, ’The Lost Filmstrips of Father Carlos Las Vegas De Cordova’ and a Theatrical Trailer.

Naming this release like a Special Edition and then skimping on the extras is once again a typical Universal slip-up. Given that this film was a classic for its time, the extras are throroughly disappointing. I believe fans would have appreciated a little more content and not being mislead by the releases title. Even a simple audio commentary would have made a nice addition to this DVD. Still, it’s great to have this film with a good anamorphic presentation and fully restored soundtrack that, in my opinion, is the most important element.