Steve Martin plays a brilliant neuroscientist, Dr Michael Hfuhruhurr, who finds the chance for love with a woman he inadvertently runs over. But it turns out she’s just after his money, and when he chances upon a strange connection with a brain in a jar, he hatches a dark scheme to get the woman of his dreams – making him the barmiest neuroscientist since Ben Carson.
Reportedly one of Paul Merton’s favourite films, The Man With Two Brains is an excellent example of an eighties comedy where the jokes come thick and fast. Done in the same dead-pan style of Airplane! it uses quick but silly dialogue and non-stop sight gags to hilarious effect.
It’s rare nowadays that comedies put such effort into every scene, with proper set ups for gags and elaborate set pieces. Fellow brilliant scientist Doctor Necessiter lives in a condo which, thanks to a bit of DIY, looks like the inside of a castle and allows for Frankenstein-esqeu scenes of retro-scientific madness.
The relationship between Hfuhruhurr and his (second) brain (voiced by an uncredited Sissy Spacek) is surprisingly touching. Thanks to the excellent performances of Martin and Kathleen Turner as his manipulative wife the plot is engaging despite the deliberate absurdity. It might be called The Man With Two Brains, but you’d need no brain not to want to see it.