Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More Wild and Crazy

Before leaving the subject of Steve Martin, I would like to make a comment or two about his extensive career in the movies. His films, while usually comedic in nature, also show depth and range far beyond what one would expect of a stand-up comic. My favorite Steve Martin movies are these: Trains, Planes, and Automobiles, Little Shop of Horrors, and Leap of Faith.

In Trains, Planes, and Automobiles Martin teams up with John Candy in a road trip from hell. As Martin tries to get home to his family for the Thanskgiving holiday, he is knocked about by the weather and ends up travelling, catch-as-catch-can, with Candy. The film is a laugh-til-you-puke comedy, but it culminates with some fairly serious drama on the parts of both stars.

Little Shop of Horrors features Martin as a sadistic dentist who also happens to be an abusive boyfriend. The movie showcases Martin’s comedy and singing ability right up to the climatic moment when he gets eaten by a plant.

And as good as those two movies are, my favorite Steve Martin film by far is Leap of Faith. In it he plays a travelling tent revival minister and faith healer whose caravan gets stalled in a small, drought-stricken Kansas town when one of its buses breaks down. Martin’s character, Reverend Jonas Nightingale, decides to make a few dollars by holding a revival while waiting on the bus to be fixed. The movie is a mighty send-up of stage-managed religion and the chicanery of faith healers. Martin, flanked by an array of glitzy gospel singers and talented con men, is the consummate showman – much the same as he is in real life. If he had taken a different path many years ago, Steve Martin could have become one hell of a religious charlatan!

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