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.

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2. L.A. Story (94 percent)

New York has received plenty of cinematic love letters in its day -- take, for instance, the bulk of Woody Allen's output -- but what about poor, smoggy Los Angeles? Steve Martin addressed this imbalance when he wrote and starred in 1991's L.A. Story, an affectionate sendup of the city's many foibles (and tribute to its strengths) in which he played Harris K. Telemacher, a down-on-his-luck weatherman whose quest for meaningful relationships is aided by a riddle-dispensing electronic billboard. It sounds ludicrous -- and it is -- but it's also very charming and often very funny. As Vincent Canby of the New York Times put it, "Like Mr. Martin himself, L.A. Story seems basically decent, intelligent and sweet. It's a fanciful romantic comedy whose wildest and craziest notion is that Los Angeles, for all of its eccentricities, is a great place to live."


1. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (95 percent)

Today it's regarded as a modern holiday classic, but in 1987, a person could have been forgiven for assuming Planes, Trains and Automobiles would be little more than lowbrow piffle; after all, neither its stars nor its writer/director were known to pass up any opportunity to make a joke about a bodily function. But guess what? Planes proved that John Hughes could make an adult comedy when the mood struck him, provided John Candy with an opportunity to broaden his range, and gave Martin his second non-wild and crazy role in less than a year. As Neal Page, the uptight ad exec who watches haplessly as his 90-minute flight home devolves into a torturous three-day journey, Martin has plenty of chances to go for easy laughs -- but he also shows a subtler, more restrained side, one that foreshadowed some of the projects he'd choose in the years to come. It is, in the words of Moviehole's Clint Morris, "One of John Hughes' finest hours, and a tour de force for Candy and Martin."


For Steve Martin's complete filmography, click here. And check out the rest of our Total Recall archives here.

Finally, here's everyone's favorite wild and crazy guy doing one of his most celebrated standup numbers, "King Tut":

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