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The Man With Two Brains
1983 - R - 93 Mins.
Director: Carl Reiner
Producer: William E. McEuen, David V. Picker
Written By: Carl Reiner, Steve Martin
Starring: Steve Martin, Kathleen Turner, David Warner, Paul Benedict, Earl Boen, James Cromwell, voice of Sissy Spacek
Review by: John Ulmer
Steve Martin was starting to make a rise into Hollywood during the time “The Man With Two Brains” was released. He had gained fame from doing standup comedy and a few records, as well as hosting “Saturday Night Live” many times. He had just come fresh off “The Jerk,” another wildly zany comedy. And much like “The Jerk,” “The Man With Two Brains” has its hit and misses.

Steve Martin plays a rich, world-famous brain surgeon. His wife has just died, and as a result he has been depressed lately. And then, during an interview, Steve hits a woman (Kathleen Turner) while driving his car. He instantly falls in love with her. Unfortunately, he has done brain damage to her. So, he performs screw-top brain surgery on her, and gets her back to life, during a funny sequence (“Cover it up! I’m a man, for God’s sake!” and “Get that cat out of here!”)

Eventually, he gets married to her. Little does he know that she is a black widow, killing off men for their wills. Pretty soon, Steve begins to fall in love with a brain. Yes, a brain (voiced by Sissy Spacek). I’m not sure where anyone got that idea, but they did.

This 1983 comedy is so loony and wild that you just have to see it.

Carl Reiner, who directed “The Jerk,” directs this wild film. Much like “The Jerk,” the comedy is extremely stupid – so much so that it is funny. Unfortunately, many of the jokes do fall flat – more often than in “The Jerk.” Many scenes are out of place and edited very choppy, as well (take the scene where Steve is driving his car and they cut to Kathleen Turner and her ninety-something husband – where did that come from?!).
Still, the film has its big moments. It starts to wither away in the middle, then picks up again at the end.

Martin and Reiner wrote this movie, and it’s no wonder. It seems like a Steve Martin-written film. But Reiner must have contributed a lot, because Martin wrote “Bowfinger” by himself and there wasn’t that much slapstick in the movie.

This film could have been decent just on the premise that Martin gets with a black widow who tries to kill him off. But when you add a talking brain to the premise you think one of two things. One, the makers were on drugs when they wrote this. Or two: Steve Martin wrote it.

It’s just too bad that the film doesn’t work as well as it should. Too many should-be laughs don’t work, and a lot of the gags just are not funny. They are overused and basic. Nowhere near the greatness of Steve Martin’s greatest comedy, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”

But one of the best sequences is a simple one with not much thought at all. After hitting Kathleen Turner, Steve runs over to a little girl and says, “Okay, little girl, you need to run down to the ER and tell (whoever) that we’ve got a (gobble-gook-whatever) with a cerebral hemorrhage and a (gobble-gook-whatever); then tell Mary that…” He goes on and on with medical garble. Then, the little girl, holding a teddy bear, who has just been staring at Steve the whole time, says, “Sounds like an inner (whatever) to me.” And then Steve says, “Oh it does, does it? Well, what do you know? Get out of here! Go on, get! Boy, that makes me mad. It’s not an inner (whatever), it’s an OUTER (whatever), so HAH!”

I haven’t laughed that much in a while. It’s just the chemistry between the girl and Martin in that scene. You have to see the girl’s face, and how Martin reacts to her. “Oh you do, do you?” I love it.

Overall, “The Man With Two Brains” is not a great comedy by any means, and it definitely could have been better; but for heaven’s sake: at least watch the scene with Martin and the little girl!
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

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