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Carl Reiner
Steve Martin, Kathleen Turner, David Warner
George Gipe, Steve Martin and Carl Reiner
A brain surgeon marries a femme fatale, causing his life to turn upside down. Things go more awry when he falls in love with a talking brain.
Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 8/29/2017

• Trailer


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The Man With Two Brains [Blu-Ray] (1983)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 27, 2017)

Depressing thought of the day: I’m old enough remember when audiences knew Steve Martin as a comedian instead of as an actor. I think it was right around the time of 1983's The Man With Two Brains that the dominant opinion started to change, mainly because I think Martin had ceased to perform stand-up by that point. The more movies he made, the quicker memories of the old "wild and crazy guy" faded.

This shift didn't happen because Brains lit up box offices, as I think it fizzled theatrically. I won't try to convince you that Brains delivers a forgotten gem, because it doesn’t. However, it does offer a moderate amount of fun and it remains one of Martin's better early efforts.

World-famous brain scientist Michael Hfuhruhurr (Martin) still mourns his late wife Rebecca but he moves on when he literally runs into recently widowed babe Dolores Benedict (Kathleen Turner). Dr. Hfuhruhurr hits Dolores with his car and causes a brain injury that he then corrects.

Dr. Hfuhruhurr falls for Dolores, but the conniving gold-digger just sees Michael as another easy mark. She seduces him and the pair marry, but she claims continual headaches to escape the need to consummate the relationship.

When Dr. Hfuhruhurr gets the chance to attend a conference in Austria, he accepts as he thinks the trip will loosen up Dolores. It doesn’t, but Michael develops a new relationship when he meets Anne Uumellmahaye – or part of her, at least, for Anne exists as a disembodied brain who communicates with Michael through telepathy. This leads to a curious love triangle.

Ironically, the worst thing about Brains stems from the fact that it starts out extremely well. The first 15 minutes or so are hilarious, as the movie provides one great gag after another.

And then it hits a wall. Don't ask me to pinpoint exactly when this happens, because I can't, but it definitely occurs.

The rest of the film remains entertaining, and a few good jokes pop up from time to time, but the overall product seems a little flat. Still, “flat with a few strong spots” beats most comedies, as the vast majority of "humorous" movies are lucky to eke out a single laugh, much less a bunch of them.

When it succeeds, Brains does so largely due to the presence of Martin, who was still getting his feet wet in films as of 1983. He'd made more than a few by that point but his persona still seemed bound to the stand-up comic of the 1970s, despite an attempt in 1981's dramatic musical Pennies from Heaven to alter that. The change would occur - aided by the success of 1984’s All of Me - but Martin still hadn't made that leap in 1983.

Despite the hit or miss nature of the gags in Brains, Martin stays consistently watchable and entertaining, and he's backed by an able supporting cast. Then known for dramatic roles, Kathleen Turner proves adept at comedy in her role as evil wife Dolores. She's able to go from sinister to sweet and back again with ease and she provides a fun presence.

Also good is David Warner as Dr. Necessiter, an Austrian scientist, and the cast even features personal favorite James Cromwell in a goofy turn as a realtor. By the way, the film includes two other noted participants, but I won't reveal their identities - to do so would spoil some of the fun.

Brains does give us a reasonable amount of enjoyment. It sputters at times but still comes with enough charm and wit to make it likable.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus D-

The Man With Two Brains appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not dazzling, the image appeared to replicate the source.

Sharpness was generally good, as the majority of the movie displayed appropriate delineation. Though not razor-sharp, the elements came across with positive accuracy. No signs of jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes or print flaws.

Colors seemed reasonably solid. The movie opted for a natural palette that could be a bit heavy – likely due to the film stock in use – but the hues largely worked fine. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows offered positive clarity. This became a more than acceptable image.

As for the movie’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, the quality of the track was perfectly adequate for its age and origins. Dialogue always remained intelligible and showed reasonably natural tones. The lines could be a little thin but they worked fine.

Effects were moderately clear and realistic, and the movie's goofy synthesizer score came across as similarly adequate. Both aspects of the mix lacked any significant dynamic range but they sounded decent, with only a little distortion at times. Nothing here impressed, but the track seemed suitable for the film.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2014 widescreen DVD? Audio showed a bit better clarity, while visuals came across as tighter and cleaner, with superior blacks and colors. The Blu-ray offered a definite step up in terms of picture quality.

Neither the 1999 nor 2014 DVDs included any extras, but the Blu-ray throws in the movie’s trailer. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.

While not Steve Martin’s best work, The Man With Two Brains proves to be reasonably entertaining. It offers a silly piece with enough laughs to keep the viewer interested. The Blu-ray provides pretty good picture along with adequate audio and negligible supplements. I wish Warner would finally create a release with notable bonus materials, but at least this Blu-ray finally delivers a quality reproduction of the movie itself.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of MAN WITH TWO BRAINS

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