Total Recall: Steve Martin's Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed films of the noted actor, writer, director, and wild and crazy guy.

8. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (88 percent)

Faithful in story, if not entirely in spirit, to 1964's David Niven/Marlon Brando farce Bedtime Story, 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels acts as a sort of closing chapter in the career of Steve Martin, absurdist funnyman; after yukking it up with Michael Caine in the French countryside for this tale of dueling grifters -- and offending eyepatch-wearing inbreds everywhere with his unforgettable scenes as Ruprecht the Monkey Boy -- Martin mostly avoided abject silliness until signing on for The Pink Panther. Critics were, for the most part, quite kind to Scoundrels; although they were quick to point out the film's recycled origins, as well as the occasional plot defect, the fun being had by the leads is as obvious as it is infectious. In the words of the BBC's George Perry, "there is a slightly perfunctory air in the way the story unreels as though it's all been done before. Nevertheless, Caine and Martin make a great double act."


7. The Spanish Prisoner (88 percent)

Although Martin had attempted a number of dramatic roles by the late 1990s, his appearance in David Mamet's The Spanish Prisoner still seemed like something of a revelation -- partly because it came during a period in which Martin was receiving positive notice for branching out into new areas (the 1993 play Picasso at the Lapin Agile; his essay-writing gig for the New Yorker), and partly because it was a good deal more entertaining than any of his recent comedies (including Mixed Nuts and Sgt. Bilko). Of course, the star of any Mamet production is Mamet's script -- something pointed out by several critics who took issue with the many Mamet-isms in The Spanish Prisoner's dialogue -- but Martin acquitted himself admirably as Jimmy Dell, the mysterious stranger who may or may not be pulling the strings in a high-stakes con, impressing writers like Filmcritic's Christopher Null, who wrote "Steve Martin and Campbell Scott -- wow! Who knew they had such talent?"

Comments

vitajex

Mike M

Pennies from Heaven has got to be one of the weirdest musicals ever! That's the only reason I could get through it, as I generally don't like musicals.(I have compulsive homicidal reactions to "Jazz Hands")

The Jerk is, without a doubt, one of the funniest films ever. I could watch it 100 times and still laugh.

And if you don't like "Planes, Trains and Automobiles", you probably like to kick puppies too.

Feb 5 - 09:03 AM

Vito G.

Vito Gerasole

Steve martin is a great! My Blue heaven is by far one of the funniest movies ever he nails that roll. The Jerk should be number 1 and where art thou old steve martin all this new stuff is pretty bad except he has a small roll in Baby Mama which is classic Steve Martin. That right there lets me know that he does still have it he just chooses all this family comedy stuff.

Feb 5 - 12:10 PM

JAKEofMIDWORLD

Jake Almond

I think Steve Martin is one of the greats. He's made some bad pictures, but so has all the other great comedians.

Feb 5 - 09:18 AM

arendr

Arend Anton

Good lord, he's made some fantastic movies over the years.

Feb 5 - 09:24 AM

He's a Cockapoopoo

Michael Harto

Why does the "best" of everything have to depend on the Tomato Meter? Just because critics take themselves too seriously to give Three Amigos or My Blue Heaven a Fresh Rating... I should decide.

Feb 5 - 09:34 AM

spoo

R Lamb

Ugghh I hate My Blue Heaven but I do agree that The Three Amigos is great.

Feb 5 - 10:01 AM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

AH! My Blue Heaven is awesome... this list makes me sad, WHERE IS THOU AWESOME STEVE MARTIN?!?

Feb 5 - 12:02 PM

NancySansone

Nancy Sansone

You're right. I had forgotten "Blue Heaven." Another memorable dance scene just as fun as the one at the end of "All of Me." Rick Moranis deserves some applause too.

Feb 6 - 08:29 AM

Brad Z.

Brad Zukerman

Because thats the way Rotten Tomatoes judges movies. Its not dependent on one or two really good opinion makers. At the beginning the intro says that this is a list of Steve martin's highest rated movies. Thats the criteria RT goes by and you need to deal with it.

Feb 5 - 04:41 PM

opTIMus Nerd

Tim Ahlberg

I love Martin in many things but he has not made a film worth seeing in YEARS!

These Pink Panther things are depressing and I really don't understand the reason for another one...Uck. People saw the first one?

L.A. Story, I thought, was a turning point for him and I remember being quite excited back then to think that most of his movies, from then on, would be of that quality or better. Instead Sgt. Bilko, Pink Panther and other garbage. Booooo.

Feb 5 - 09:41 AM

tgibfo

Matt Ritchey

Some good stuff.... obviously I completely agree with THREE AMIGOS and MY BLUE HEAVEN being above PENNIES FROM HEAVEN...

Feb 5 - 09:49 AM

spoo

R Lamb

Ugghh I hate My Blue Heaven but I do agree that The Three Amigos is great.

Feb 5 - 10:01 AM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

AH! My Blue Heaven is awesome... this list makes me sad, WHERE IS THOU AWESOME STEVE MARTIN?!?

Feb 5 - 12:02 PM

NancySansone

Nancy Sansone

You're right. I had forgotten "Blue Heaven." Another memorable dance scene just as fun as the one at the end of "All of Me." Rick Moranis deserves some applause too.

Feb 6 - 08:29 AM

Hari Seldon

R Whitten

Best Steve Martin movies huh? Well let's see, there's The Jerk and .... Ummm ... I guess that's about it.

Feb 5 - 10:06 AM

SuperJuice

Killer Kowalsky

As an "old" Martin fan, he needs to see this and strive for this type a' gold again. His last 10 years of movie-dome output is abyssmal. Bowfinger was his last good comedy.

Is there any hope he'll somehow come back to us? I know he's about growing and shedding some of that old image, but his mojo is long gone. He could go back to his roots - maybe even going back to his *gasp* stand-up act (which is tried a number of years ago and putzed out).

Feb 5 - 10:19 AM

IBelieveInHarveyDent

john lyon

i used to have hope that steve martin would someday be funny again and then i heard his new banjo song on snl...

Feb 5 - 10:34 AM

Nate A.

Nate Austin

Martin has been in a rut for a while now, checked out his IMDB and his last good comedy was Bowfinger and it's ten years old already! Agree with Planes as the #1 film. Always thought The Man With Two Brains was pretty funny also.

Feb 5 - 10:43 AM

Elixor

Daniel Klooster

Planes as #1 is dead on, but I agree with others that Three Amigos would be on my top ten. But it's obvious how easy a list like this is if you can just rank them by something like Tamato meter scores too :)

Feb 5 - 11:29 AM

kodie131

Cody Dean

The Jerk should be #1! Planes is great, but come on, nothing beats juggling cats.

Feb 5 - 11:32 AM

arendr

Arend Anton

Yeah, I like Three Amigos too. It's silly, but fun.

Snobby critics really tore that movie apart.

Feb 5 - 11:55 AM

Shatter24

Jeremiah Rancourt

I do like the Tomato-meter makes an objective an impartial list, since it is a compilation of many critics reviews and therefore stands above individual preference. I do also agree that critics have a tendency to take themselves too seriously and this list is heavy on Martin films that are not what he's good at and known for (comedy) but are instead against type which critics like but audiences rarely do.

Three Amigoes should definitly be on this list and My Blue Heaven should be considered. I too mourn the Steve Martin of old, who mixed zaniness with a straight man routine, rarely seen today. I don't think we'll ever seen that from Martin again, b/c his mediocre family-oriented comedies are too safe a bet for studios.

Feb 5 - 11:56 AM

nate2709

Nate 2709

Don't forget BOWFINGER!

Feb 5 - 11:58 AM

Better Days

Gregory Adamo

Absolutely! Bowfinger is a very underrated film. Eddie Murphy was also GREAT in it.

Feb 6 - 05:03 AM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

AH! My Blue Heaven is awesome... this list makes me sad, WHERE IS THOU AWESOME STEVE MARTIN?!?

Feb 5 - 12:02 PM

NancySansone

Nancy Sansone

You're right. I had forgotten "Blue Heaven." Another memorable dance scene just as fun as the one at the end of "All of Me." Rick Moranis deserves some applause too.

Feb 6 - 08:29 AM

Vito G.

Vito Gerasole

Steve martin is a great! My Blue heaven is by far one of the funniest movies ever he nails that roll. The Jerk should be number 1 and where art thou old steve martin all this new stuff is pretty bad except he has a small roll in Baby Mama which is classic Steve Martin. That right there lets me know that he does still have it he just chooses all this family comedy stuff.

Feb 5 - 12:10 PM

tomwaitsjrHAPPYICONOCLAST

Greg Guro

Wow! Looking at the opening for Pennies from Heaven, it's dead on for Hopper's "Nighthawks," one of the best American paintings ever.

That said, the more I looked at the films, the sadder and more nostalgic I felt. All these God-Awful films Martin keeps doing makes it like he's more than dead, but being tortured and dying slowly. . .

And Planes, et al. kind of makes me feel bittersweet, since we lost John Candy so early, and he was phenomenol in that film.

I hope Pink Panther dies, but I predict it'll make over 50 million domestic overall. . . Paul Blart surprised me by making so much opening day, but I attribute that to that film being PG, as is this one.

Feb 5 - 01:32 PM

vitajex

Mike M

I hate to say it, but I think the sequel will probably break $100M. The first one did $160M worldwide... and that's not including the $1 I paid at the Redbox...

Feb 5 - 02:39 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

I would actually say Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid is my favorite of his, I am a butler not a catcher.

Feb 5 - 01:47 PM

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