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.

by Jeff Giles | Thursday, Feb. 05 2009

6. All of Me (89 percent)

Between 1978 and 1984, Martin averaged a film a year, encompassing everything from typically Martinesque comedies (The Jerk, The Man with Two Brains) to a musical revival (Pennies from Heaven) and a film noir parody (Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid). Not everything he made during this period was particularly well-received, either by critics or filmgoers, but 1984's All of Me represents an early career peak. Teaming with director Carl Reiner for the fourth time, Martin plays Roger Cobb, an attorney/jazz guitarist who ends up having half of his body taken over by the spirit of a deceased client (played by Lily Tomlin). The setup is ridiculous, but it allows Martin plenty of room to display his incredible gift for physical comedy; the scenes in which he struggles with Tomlin's spirit for control of his body would make the movie worth watching even if they were its only good qualities. Fortunately, there's a very good story, and some fine performances, behind all the laughs; as Time Magazine's Richard Corliss observed, "Martin vaults to the top of the class with his brazen, precise performance. This one goes in the time capsule."

5. Little Shop of Horrors (91 percent)

Okay, so Little Shop of Horrors isn't a Steve Martin movie in the truest sense; his appearance as the sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello is basically a glorified cameo. But what a cameo it is -- Martin's big musical number, the terrifically witty "Dentist!," just about steals the show, which is all the more impressive when you stop to consider that the show in question features a bloodthirsty talking plant with spellbindingly full lips and the voice of Levi Stubbs. Most critics enjoyed this colorful, Frank Oz-directed musical update on Roger Corman's 1960 film, but even the ones who didn't -- such as eFilmCritic's Brian McKay -- admitted that Little Shop is "made tolerable by Steve Martin and the talking plant."