I tried watching the new Hulu series, Only Murders in the Building, co-written by and starring Steve Martin. It’s such a joy to watch Martin, even if he’s relegated to playing a washed-up former celebrity who’s mistaken for Scott Bakula. There’s a great moment when he asks Selena Gomez about researching a murder case online. You see, he’s old and doesn’t understand how being online works. So he tasks her with doing the online research.
“Have you checked all the web sites?” he asks her.
She pauses for a beat, clearly unsure how to respond. “Yes, I checked all the web sites,” she deadpans. He thinks this is a perfectly reasonable answer. It’s pretty darn adorable.
It’s Steve Martin playing a schlub and he’s had one heck of a career doing it. And Martin Short is a lot of fun, too. I see from its thread some of you guys are enjoying the show. But I can’t stomach Selena Gomez as the emotional core of the mystery, and I don’t really have the affection for crime podcasts that I think the show expects. So, after two episodes, I don’t think I’ll be sticking with Only Murders in the Building.
But now I really want to watch a Steve Martin movie. I think of how David Mamet used him in The Spanish Prisoner. Mamet doesn’t believe in schlubs. Mamet believes in smart driven characters. Leave it to Mamet to scrape the Al Bundy off Ed O’Neill. However, shouldn’t I probably go back to one of Steve Martin’s classics with Carl Reiner? Or maybe enjoy him as part of an ensemble like Parenthood? Or Planes, Trains, and Automobiles? If you could only pick one movie, what do you guys think is the single definitive Steve Martin performance?