Watch These Four Wonderful Movies (And One TV Episode) For Steve Martin’s Birthday

Senior Writer
08.14.14 44 Comments

More often than not, I discourage people from reading the comments sections or poor man’s message board threads on IMDB, because they’re filled with anonymous dipshits who sincerely live by the belief that if someone gave them a shot, they could all be better than Hollywood’s best and brightest stars. Or the posts are littered with nameless numbnuts claiming to have the latest inside info on the day’s biggest film news, and followed up with dream casting from fanboys and girls who really wish that Kristen Stewart could be in just about every movie ever made. Again, I don’t recommend ever jumping into that quicksand unless you’re built out of titanium and can hold off on shouting, “What the f*ck!” at your monitor for more than 30 seconds.

This morning, I was looking over Steve Martin’s IMDB page after I asked myself whether or not the legendary comic, actor, writer, musician, etc. had any truly underrated movies that needed someone to stick up for them, and I didn’t need to answer it because this message thread caught my eye.

In fairness, that “recent post” is from 2007, but still… not funny anymore? Digging in a little deeper, there are people who say that Martin has never been funny, and they all clearly need to be sent off to their own island where they can watch Happy Madison films until their pants all fall down and they get pissed on by deer. One commenter even went as far as to say that My Blue Heaven was his shark-jumping movie, and that’s where I draw the damn line, people. My Blue Heaven is a national treasure that should have its own wing in the motherf*cking Smithsonian, and people who don’t agree with that have clearly never actually said, “You know, it’s dangerous for you to be here in the frozen food section… because you could melt all this stuff” to a woman in a supermarket on a dare.

So instead of ranking Steve Martin’s most underrated movies (he has very few that don’t get the respect they deserve) or talking about how cool it is that the baseball scene in Parenthood was actually filmed at a park down the street from me, I decided to celebrate his 69th birthday today by talking about the four movies that we should be required by law to watch once a week, as well as one TV episode that he starred in, because it might have been the best of that series. Obviously, a conversation like this begins with…

¡Three Amigos!

It is indisputable fact that everyone currently alive in the United States of America, and perhaps even the entire world, considers ¡Three Amigos! to be one of the greatest movies ever made. Anyone who claims that it isn’t is lying or crazy and should be Baker Acted and examined by the world’s top psychiatric experts. Directed by John Landis and co-starring Chevy Chase and Martin Short, ¡Three Amigos! was written by Martin, Lorne Michaels and Randy Newman, and it features some of the most quotable lines in movie history, as I don’t know a single person who doesn’t hear the word “plethora” and immediately respond…

Additionally, what grown man and his friends don’t occasionally embarrass their significant others or children by doing the Amigos’ salute?

Obviously, no one should ever have to write such gushing words about what a wonderful movie ¡Three Amigos! is because we all know that it’s great. When babies are born and placed in their mothers’ arms for the first time, they should be wrapped in blankets that come with DVD or Blu Ray copies of this movie, because children should be raised watching the adventures of Lucky Day, Dusty Bottoms and Ned Nederlander instead of Princess Sophia and the Wiggles. Ultimately, I just want to remind people that if they’re not doing their part by watching ¡Three Amigos! at least once a month (at the absolute minimum), then what the hell do they even own TVs for?

What other movies taught a 7-year old me how to call other kids “sons of motherless goats”? Which other characters taught us to threaten people by telling them that we’ll “pump you so full of lead, youll be using your dick for a pencil”? How else would we walk into Mexican restaurants and ask, “Do you have anything besides Mexican food?” with stupid smirks on our faces? What would we do if we walked into fancy places that have pianos? Not sing “My Little Buttercup”? Each question is as ridiculous as the next, but we fortunately don’t have to ask them because we were blessed with ¡Three Amigos!.

In conclusion, if you’re not already watching ¡Three Amigos! from just reading the movie’s title, then you need to correct that immediately. (Helpful tip: It’s really not difficult to find the full movie in case you don’t have it handy. Watch it on your phone or tablet, or just walk into random offices and turn it on. Just make sure people are watching it, okay? Do your part.)

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Just the same as ¡Three Amigos!, people shouldn’t need me telling them how awesome of a movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is or that it should be watched at least several times a year. They should, however, reconsider allowing a young, impressionable child to watch it, because for a portion of my youth, I wanted nothing more than to be the ultimate globe-trotting gentleman con man. Criminal influences aside, one thing that I strangely remember about Dirty Rotten Scoundrels from back in 1988 or 1989 (depending on when it hit HBO and I watched it without parental consent like a true suburban badass) was that it had a really bad critical rating, like one out of four stars or something. Back then, I truly believed in the word of the movie critic, so I thought that if it had one star it was a really terrible movie.

Then I saw the Siskel & Ebert episode with the duo’s review for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and I was always #TeamEbert over #TeamSiskel, because Gene never seemed to like a lot of the best movies including this one. Ebert, on the other hand, really liked it and gave it a thumbs up, also writing at the time:

The plot of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is not as complex as a movie like “The Sting,” and we can see some of the surprises as soon as they appear on the horizon. But the chemistry between Martin and Caine is fun, and Headly provides a resilient foil as a woman who looks like a pushover but somehow never seems to topple.

Siskel called it a “two-man one-man show,” which didn’t make sense, because it was an awesome, hilarious movie and he was big poopyhead sometimes, rest his soul. Also, it’s worth pointing out that Siskel gave My Stepmother is an Alien a thumbs up on the very same episode, so he must have been high. As for the movie, come on, try to tell me that you haven’t imitated the Ruprecht scene before.

It took me several years to actually get that scene, but this just proves the fact that this is a very fun, re-watchable movie that was fortunately aired on Comedy Central almost every other week when I was in college, so I always had something to look forward to when I woke up on my couch in the afternoon and didn’t feel like going to class.

L.A. Story

When I was a kid growing up in a crappy little suburban South Florida town, I never imagined in a million years that I’d ever visit Los Angeles, and I was right, because I’ve only been there one time and that was several years ago (involving the infamous “SUCK THESE JEANS” episode). Everything I thought I knew about L.A., I learned from L.A. Story in 1991, when I was bright-eyed and optimistic about everything, and when someone said, “Starring Steve Martin,” I was like, “Hell yeah, rad dudes, I’m going to see that Steve Martin movie!” because he could do no wrong.

Eventually, when I got to visit L.A. for the first time, and I was on the freeway, all I could think of was “open season,” and I chuckled as we inched through traffic at a snail’s pace. Written by Martin, L.A. Story was both a hilarious social parody based on his experiences and success in the city (as you can see in the video below) and a sweet love story. It’s also hilarious to look back on now, because I remember that brief crush I had on Sarah Jessica Parker, and I’m sort of happy that we never met, giving her the chance to fall in love with me. More than anything, though, I can’t sit at a large table for any occasion without trying to remember that coffee ordering scene, and laughing to myself as it flies over everyone’s head, because I feel like nobody ever saw this delightful movie.

Also, this movie effectively predicted the incredible female naming crisis that America is going through, with the absurd ways that very typical names are now spelled. Looking at you, girls who have obnoxiously unnecessary Y’s in your names.

My Blue Heaven

As with any time I take these trips down memory lane, it’s all for the purpose of talking about, and in this case defending, a specific movie – My Blue Heaven. Look, this isn’t a perfect movie by any means, because I’ll never get the bizarre dancing scene and God knows the kids who played Joan Cusack’s sons were really bad actors, and even when I watch this movie now, I want to slap them for giving their pocket change for a baseball field instead of buying an ice cream cone. It’s not because I don’t think it’s cute that a kid would be proactive in making his own favorite extracurricular activity better for all of his friends, but because my first job was in an ice cream shop, and some of that ice cream is hard to scoop, you jerk kid.

Also, as with “The Marine Biologist” episode of Seinfeld, I never understood the idea of making Carol Kane a sex symbol, but the name Shaldeen is just magical, like Florida beauty pageant magical.

But let’s talk about this other supermarket scene for a second, as it was brilliantly written by the late, great Nora Ephron. The “Have a nice day!” exchange is classic, like one of the funniest movie moments I’ve ever witnessed.

You know what? I’ve never even tried arugula, and yet any time I see it, I say, “It’s a veg-a-tuh-bull” like a real dickhead. That’s the essence of a good movie, leaving us with gems that we can use in everyday conversation, even if no one understands them and they come across as offensive as a result. In fact, ladies, the next time you meet a man named Todd, take his arm and say, “Todd… that’s a beautiful name.” If he gets the reference, marry him that night.

As for that one TV episode…

30 Rock – “Gavin Volure”

Fact: I will bring 30 Rock into just about anything that I talk about, so I’m obviously not going to sing Steve Martin’s praises without talking about his one episode of 30 Rock, in which he played a former billionaire named Gavin Volure, who was doing time for ripping people off. I’ve watched the entire series more times than I can count, so much that if I really looked into, I’d guarantee that the only reason I pay for Netflix is so I can watch 30 Rock (and I own the season box sets). But this episode, without a doubt, is my favorite of the entire series because Martin is fantastic as yet another of Liz Lemon’s worthless love interests.

Also, the Japanese sex doll scene kills me every time.

Happy birthday, Steve, and happy viewing to everyone else. Feel free to add Bowfinger to your queue as well, because I know someone’s going to complain that I didn’t show it any love.

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