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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

'The Man With Two Brains' DVD: Steve Martin As Neurosurgeon Who is No Rocket Scientist

Man With Two Brains, The
Warner Archive shows its wild and crazy side regarding a glorious Widescreen DVD re-release of the hilarious 1983 Steve Martin film "The Man With Two Brains." This film is part of a strong run of Martin comedies from this era that include "Little Shop of Horrors," "All of Me," and "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid." Archive has also released the uber-awesome Martin/Bernadette Peters Depression-era musical "Pennies From Heaven;" that one is slated for an Unreal TV review in 2015.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of one of several "must-see" scenes from "Brains" awesomely conveys each style of the humor that supports repeated viewings.

"Brains" wonderfully showcases the terrifically zany comedy of writer/actor Martin and writer/director Carl Reiner. The terrifically old-school concept is that Martin plays renowned (and off-the-scales egotistical) neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr. The claim to fame of Michael is his innovative technique of unscrewing the top of the head to access the brain for a surgical procedure.

On a more personal level, Michael is mourning the death of his wife to a hilariously obsessive level. This includes having a custom-made dashboard figurine of said deceased spouse in his car.

Michael's obsessions collide when he strikes femme fatale Dolores Benedict, hilariously played by Kathleeen Turner during her "Romancing the Stone" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" era, while driving past the home of Benedict. This incident leads to one of the funniest scenes in "Brains" in which Michael gives a small girl very complex instructions.

Martin, who incorporates a signature bit into the scene, next performs emergency brain surgery on Benedict. This results in a whirlwind hospital-based romance and very fast marriage. Anyone who has seen the film will laugh on being reminded of the line "its pronounced 'azaleas'" in relation to the painfully funny scene in which Michael brings his new wife home from the hospital.

A series of equally amusing circumstances result in Michael and his shrewish spouse traveling to Vienna for a medical conference/honeymoon. Michael soon connecting with colleague Dr. Necissiter, whom highly prolific character actor David Warner expertly portrays, introduces Michael to the titular second brain, which quickly becomes the love of Michael's life.

Both the TARDIS-like aspect of Neceissiter's condominium/mad scientist laboratory and humor related to the harsh realities of condominium life are other highlights of "Brains."

Martin and Reiner take things even further regarding a fall-on-the-floor funny subplot that involves a talks show host/game show producer who is an epically good sport. 

The comically bizarre nature of all these elements allow both Martin and Reiner to shine in much the way that the contemporary sitcom "Mork and Mindy" offers Martin friend Robin Williams a format in which to engage in the manic stream-of-consciousness improvisation that he does so well.

This overall relates to the broad characters, acrobatic physical comedy, a guy in a gorilla suit, and overall absurd humor that all seem that they would be very at home either in the "Show of Shows" series or "The Dick Van Dyke Show" for which Mel Brooks collaborator Reiner is so well known.

Anyone with questions or comments about "Brains" is strongly encouraged to either email or connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy. You are also welcome to attempt telepathic communication.