(Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of this blu-ray I reviewed in this article. The opinions I share are my own)
When the news of WB bluing The Man With Two Brains broke it made me realize I don’t own any Steve Martin movies in my collection. I’m a fan, but only of a select few, which got me to thinking I need to hit up IMDB and reacquaint myself with the early comedy genius that is Steve Martin. It seems I have fond memories/feelings of The Jerk (1979), Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), The Man With Two Brains (1983), All Of Me (1984) and Three Amigos (1986). I skipped The Lonely Guy (1984), because I can’t remember anything about that flick (it may turn out one day I love this movie, but right now I can’t remember a damn thing about it), and The Little Shop Of Horrors (1986), because his role in that is so small it can’t be considered a Steve Martin movie, though I do love it and still need to get that damn thing into my collection. The others I just mentioned I’ll have to get as the opportunity and money arises, in the meantime I’ll let The Man With Two Brains be the first.
I remember seeing the trailer for this on TV back in 1983, and by then the family already had cable. Incidentally we didn’t get cable (i.e. HBO and Spotlight, Showtime later when Adelphia Cable dropped Spotlight) until, I think, 1981. Since back then it took a year for any theatrical made movie to reach cable I most likely saw it in 1984, and I recall liking it a lot.
The comedy is clearly in the vein of Airplane! and the Naked Gun movies, but not as heavy, and Martin in his prime was funny as hell in this slapstick genre. I’ll admit before I ever saw the movie I thought it was about a guy who had two brains in his skull. Actually, that would’ve made a funny a movie, too, but, no, it’s about famous neurosurgeon, Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr (Martin), running gag here is no one can properly pronounce his name, who’s wife has died some years ago, who eventually meets and falls for “black widow” Dolores Benedict (Kathleen Turner). She has no morals, is a douche bag, and only marries men for their money, and if it takes their death to acquire it, then so be it.
Hfuhruhurr meets her when he accidentally runs her down one day in his car as she’s killing her latest husband on the front lawn and trying to evade his little dog he’s just sicced on her. Even a blind man can see Dolores is hot and this is part of her charm. After fixing her brain, they marry, but Dolores likes to have sex with everyone but her husband, which gets Mike tense in the worst way. Though he doesn’t find out she’s a money-grubbing slut until they take a trip to Austria, a part work/part vacation kind of thing.
Damndest thing, though, the hotel they’re staying it has had a rash of killings all occurring in the elevator. This sicko likes to kill women by injecting them window cleaner. We don’t find out who this is until the very end, and it turns out to be once popular talk show host, Merv Griffin! He explains he’s always loved to kill, but it’s been so hard to do being so famous, so he moved to Austria. Two of his victims did recognize him, so, maybe he didn’t go far enough.
A Dr. Necessiter (David Warner) shows up to challenge Hfuhruhurr’s knowledge on the brain by showing him he’s able to preserve a live fuckin’ brain in this homemade fluid, and that he can also transfer one of these preserved minds into another mind, namely one with a body. He’s done this already with a colleague of Hfuhruhurr’s putting his mind into a gorilla. He still can’t do human to human yet.
A love triangle is created when one day at Necessiter’s castle condo he makes a telepathic link to one of the brains in his lab. Only he can hear this woman who calls herself, Anne Uumellmahaye (Sissy Spacek uncredited), another running name gag, and they bond instantly! In the meantime Dolores learns her husband just inherited a shitload of money, something he won’t find out till later, so now it’s okay to actually have sex with him, which she does, but Michael is already falling in love with this brain.
This is all leading to Dolores becoming jealous and trying to kill the brain. Micheal separates from her, and is now desperate now find Anne a body, because these preserved brains of Necessitar have a shelf life. Eventually, both scientists come to the conclusion this mind transfer has to work, and the best candidate for itwould be a death by window cleaning fluid, because the brain dies last when that happens. Michael scours the city looking for a hot chick to kill and finds a hot Randi Brooks playing a hooker, but her high pitched annoying voice kills the deal. Whatever happened to Brooks? I remember she was a big deal in the 80s. She’s in one other movie I own, Terrorvision (1986). Stephanie Kramer makes a before-she-was-famous cameo as this chick who gets hit by a car Michael thinks is dead, and when’s she’s not he tries to strangle her, only to be chased off by the crowd. Kramer became well known for playing Dee Dee McCall on Hunter (1984-1990). She has no lines in this and is credited only as Beautiful Girl Hit by Car.
In a nice twist that drop dead chick Michael wants to put Anne’s mind into comes from his own ex-wife. Merv ends up killing her in an elevator, and Micheal lugs her body down to Necessitar’s lab where the deed is done! Another twist at the very end reveals Anne never told Michael she was a compulsive eater, so when he wakes from a coma (having been blown out the window of the condo during the mind transfer) he finds his wife is overweight, but it’s a happy ending regardless, for they marry, again.
The sight gags come at nearly non-stop, but that’s okay since most of them are hilarious! I’m still not sure why it’s called, The Man With Two Brains. I understand the one brain there of Anne’s, but I guess the second would be Dolores’, even though it’s not in a huge jar.
Warner Brothers has had this movie on disc for some time in DVD form starting in 2004, then it was reissued as a double feature with Steve Martin’s My Blue Heaven (1990) in 2006, which has also recently gotten blued through Warner’s Archive sub-label! This past August 29th The Man With Two Brains finally made it to glorious blu-ray!
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.85:1 high definition widescreen—2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio—English SDH subs only
I was never aware until now how colorful this movie is. One of the great things about being in the age of DVD is seeing certain “old movies” get transfered to disc, especially if they get a new 1080p HD remaster like this one got. Yes, The Man With Two Brains actually has a noteworthy color palette of beiges, greens, oranges and pinks in various scenes I would have never noticed in any other video format. And seeing as it’s a Warner Brothers movie it’s not surprising this remaster is stunning to look at!
Extras Included . . .
- Trailer (Remastered in HD)
One cameo I totally forgot to mention, and a significant one too, is that of Jeffery Combs playing Dr. Jones, who’s on screen for a total of 3-4 minutes. This is two years before he would play the cult, iconic character of undead resurrector, Dr. Herbert West, in Stuart Gordon’s Re-animator (1985).