Review: ‘The Man with Two Brains’

The Man with Two Brains is a fitfully amusing return by Steve Martin to the broad brand of lunacy that made his first feature, The Jerk [1979], so successful.

The Man with Two Brains is a fitfully amusing return by Steve Martin to the broad brand of lunacy that made his first feature, The Jerk [1979], so successful.

Plot is a frayed crazy quilt barely held together as if by clothespins. Ace neurosurgeon Martin almost kills beauteous Kathleen Turner in an auto accident, only to save her via his patented screwtop brain surgery technique. Turner proves to be a master at withholding her sexual favors from her frustrated husband, who decides to take her on a honeymoon to Vienna in an attempt to thaw her out.

While there, Martin visits the lab of colleague David Warner and meets the love of his life, a charming woman and marvelous conversationalist [voiced by Sissy Spacek] who also happens to be a disembodied brain suspended in a jar, her body having been the victim of a crazed elevator killer.

Much humor, of course, stems from the befuddled Martin groveling at the feet of the knockout Turner he comes to call a ‘scum queen’, but too much of the film seems devoted to frantic overkill to compensate for general lack of bellylaughs and topnotch inspiration.

Martin delivers all that’s expected of him as a performer, and Turner is a sizzling foil for his comic and pent-up sexual energy.

The Man with Two Brains

Production

Aspen/Warner. Director Carl Reiner; Producer David V. Picker, William E. McEuen; Screenplay Carl Reiner, Steve Martin, George Gipe; Camera Michael Chapman; Editor Bud Molin; Music Joel Goldsmith; Art Director Polly Platt

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1983. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Steven Martin Kathleen Turner David Warner Paul Benedict Richard Brestoff James Cromwell
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