Living legend doesn’t even begin to describe Steve Martin’s place in Hollywood lore. The stand-up comic turned actor has been entertaining the masses in family-friendly films since the 1970s. It makes you often wonder, “How old is Steve Martin?” because not many nearly-80-year-old actors are still chugging along with so much success. Martin likes to play characters who endure everyday problems, but are also usually subjected to uncanny or weird circumstances. His ability to go with the flow and overcome the humorous situations in the movies makes his brand of humor relatable yet unique.
While Steve Martin hasn’t been as active in the 2010s and 2020s, his renaissance for the masses has come with Hulu’s mystery series Only Murders in the Building. Steve Martin and Martin Short are joined by Selena Gomez for murder-mystery fun and intrigue, and the series has just entered its third season on the streamer. Let’s see where it ranks amongst the 10 best Steve Martin movies and shows of all time.
Not every list has to include just critical darlings. The Pink Panther may not have been well-received by reviewers, but the fans went to the theaters in droves to see Steve Martin play Inspector Jacques Clouseau. The detective is hilariously underprepared to actually solve any murders or crimes, and the combination of physical humor and heart displayed by Clouseau makes this one an absolute riot every time you turn it on. Also, seeing Steve Martin fart in front of Beyonce in a singing booth is one of the best movie moments of the 2000s; I don’t care what anyone has to say!
While this remake of the 1950s Cheaper by the Dozen isn’t nearly as well-liked, Steve Martin’s sense of humor makes this a fun family affair for all ages. Martin plays a father of 12 children who moves across the country when a new job opportunity arises, and, as you can expect, not everyone is excited about the upheaval. Director Shawn Levy, who is more known for his work on Stranger Things now, does well in these comedy collaborations with Martin.
The Jerk’s premise probably (definitely) gets some side-eye today: a white child of Black sharecroppers grows up to experience what it’s like outside of his family bubble. But it also marks Martin’s first lead role in a movie — which you’d never know from his incredible ability to shine bright and carry the production.
Steve Martin gets out of his comfort zone and typecast in this suspense film about a shady business magnate who wields his money and power any way he pleases. His main victim is the main character, Joe Ross, an inventor with a novel idea. Martin plays the antagonist in this film, something that is more than rare for the usually upbeat, everyman superstar.
Steve Martin has shown throughout his career that he does an excellent job playing a concerned, overwhelmed father. Here he plays a stereotypical dad who can’t easily come to grips with his daughter getting married. This remake of the 1950 film by Vincente Minnelli is beloved for the star casting of Martin and Diane Keaton. (It’s also one of the first big roles of Succession star Kieran Culkan’s career.)
This meta-analysis of the mystery and true crime genres is still going as strong as ever. The chemistry between Martin Short, Steve Martin, and Selena Gomez as three mystery-hungered problem solvers is still sharp and comforting. The side characters are played by big names like Amy Schumer, Meryl Streep, Paul Rudd, and Shirley Maclaine. It’s hard to describe exactly what makes this show so special; rather, all of the elements combine to become greater than the sum of their parts. Many more strong seasons could see this show rank at the top of Martin’s resume by the time it’s finished.
John Hughes’ decision to make a comedy starring adults rather than high schoolers was absolutely gold. Steve Martin and John Candy make for one of the all-time great comedic duos when their mismatched personalities clash and eventually mesh as they try to make it home to family for Thanksgiving dinner. The simple premise and humanity of the storyline help to ground this film and make it a holiday classic that absolutely never gets old, no matter how many years in a row you watch it.
Roxanne was something of a passion project for Steve Martin. He invested years of research and writing into the role of Charlie Bales, a likable fireman with an obnoxiously large nose. It is based on the play Cyrano de Bergerac from 1897. The romantic tale at the heart of the film between Charlie and Roxanne is feel-good and played to perfection by Martin and Daryl Hannah.
Fantasy is perhaps the best genre to bring the most comedic ideas to audiences around the world. Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin do an impeccable job of joining forces in one body, quite literally, when Tomlin’s character tries to have her soul put into another woman after her death. Martin is masterful at drawing the most possible laughs out of every unrealistic, fantastical situation.
Steve Martin yet again plays a father who is struggling to parent his children in the way he deems acceptable, blaming his kids for the lack of perfection he desires. Keanu Reeves and Joaquin Phoenix make early-career appearances in this comedic classic. Families of any age should be able to find at least one storyline or character in this film that they relate to.
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