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Film / The Man with Two Brains

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German Detective: You're playing God!
Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr: Somebody's got to!

A 1983 comedy film directed by Carl Reiner and starring Steve Martin as Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr (it's pronounced exactly how it's spelled), a brilliant but arrogant neurosurgeon newly married to a monstrous gold-digging Black Widow (Kathleen Turner), who belatedly meets and falls in love with his soulmate, Anne Uumellmahaye (Sissy Spacek) whose one tiny defect is that she's a disembodied brain in a jar. Hfuhruhurr naturally attempts to find a body into which to transplant her. Hilarity Ensues. (No, really!)

Like all of Martin's early movie work, it's pretty much gag-a-minute, with two particular highlights being Hfuhruhurr facing the world's strictest drunk-driving test, and the identity of The Elevator Killer.


This film provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Kathleen Turner did this film right after Body Heat, and her role as Femme Fatale Dolores clearly references it, right down to recreating the finger-sucking scene from said film.
  • Affectionate Parody: A modern day take on Gothic Horror.
  • And I Must Scream: Since she lacks a body, let alone sensory organs, Anne can't see, hear, feel, or sense anything at all aside from Hfuhruhurr's voicenote . It's no small miracle she remained sane! Now consider all the brains Necessiter keeps in jars...
  • Audience Murmurs: After Michael makes his big announcement, the Viennese audience gasps and murmurs in astonishment:
    Michael: What are they saying?
    Dr. Conrad: They are just saying 'murmur, murmur, murmur.'
    Michael: You mean it's just sort of a general murmur?
    Dr. Conrad: Yeah. Murmur.
    Michael: Oh. [to the crowd] You may murmur all you like —
    Crowd: [loudly] Murmur, murmur, murmur, murmur, murmur.
  • Advertisement:
  • Big Eater: Anne—at least once she's got a body to do it with.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Dr. Necessiter's apartment.
    • Subverted: It only looks bigger. Still almost no closet space.
  • Big "NO!": Hfuhruhurr's departed wife, after he asks a portrait of her for her disapproval in regards to his marriage to Dolores.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing / Black Widow: Dolores.
  • Brain in a Jar: Lots of them.
  • Brain Transplant: Hfuhruhurr's goal.
  • The Cameo: Merv Griffin as himself, who turns out to be the Elevator Killer.
  • Card-Carrying Villain / Obviously Evil: Dolores, right from the start, when she loves watching forehead veins throb.
  • Cargo Ship: In-Universe. A good and long part of the movie involves Hfuhruhurr trying to be romantic with Anne's Brain in a Jar, including taking her rowing and putting wax lips on the glass. It all stays PG, though.
  • Came Back Wrong: Necessiter's previous attempts to resurrect a brain-in-a-jar in a new living body. He probably shouldn't have tried to transplant a brilliant doctor into a gorilla...
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Dr. Hfuhruhurr.
  • Companion Cube: Hfuhruhurr carries around a little Barbie doll representing his first, deceased wife, and often speaks to it as though it were really her. Anne's jar could also qualify.
  • Convenient Coma: After Hfuhruhurr nearly dies in the transplant procedure, he spends enough time in coma for Anne to get back on her feet in Dolores' body.
  • Covered in Mud: When Hfuhruhurr discovers the extent of Dolores' unfaithfulness he shoves her face-first into a suspiciously convenient puddle.
    Hfuhruhurr: Into the mud, scum queen!
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Fran, a prostitute that Hfuhruhurr tried to kill so Anne could have her body.
  • Dead Man Writing
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Necessiter, though his experiments are solely For SCIENCE! instead of any actual evil, and he's completely unaware that (at least some of) his brains are still fully conscious.
  • The Faceless: Well, considering Anne's a disembodied brain, you only hear Sissy Spacek.
  • Fanservice Extra: Fran. She has a relatively small role, but not even her cacophonic voice is enough to wreck the fact that she's super-hot.
  • Fat Suit: Turner dons one after Anne's been transplanted into Dolores' head.
  • Femme Fatale: Dolores to the point of (intentional) parody.
  • For the Evulz: Dolores loves to watch veins in foreheads throbbing.
  • Fun with Foreign Languages
  • Fun with Subtitles: Lampshaded. When the Austrian police realise that Hfuhruhurr speaks English, one of them asks for the subtitles to be turned off and notes that it's roomier without them.
  • Gold Digger: Dolores, with a vengeance.
  • A God Am I: Hfuhruhurr gets a wee bit unhinged when in the midst of Anne's transplant procedure, trying to stop the police from interfering. When accused of playing God, he replies, "Somebody has to!"
  • Groin Attack: Hfuhruhurr does this to Dolores while they scuffle. He nails her right in the balls.
  • Heel Realization: Hfuhruhurr very nearly kills an innocent woman to use her body. He realizes he can't do it in the nick of time.
  • Homage: Donovan's Brain. It's Dr. Hfuhruhurr's favorite film, too.
  • Hypocrite: Dolores hates Mexicans (among other ethnic groups) but has no problem sleeping with the gardener.
  • Insufferable Genius: Likes to brag Dolly Parton wants to have his baby.
    Dr. Hfuhruhurr: Would you read that back to me? I'm afraid that might make me sound pompous to your readers.
    Olsen: "My brilliant research in brain transplantation is unsurpassed, and will probably make my name live beyond eternity."
    Dr. Hfuhruhurr: Well, that's all right. Take out the "probably". It makes me sound wishy-washy.
    • Later:
      Dr. Hfuhruhurr: (mildly annoyed) I told him to take out the "probably."
  • Love Makes You Evil: Or at least willing to kill.
  • Little Professor Dialog
  • Mad Scientist: ...several. Necessiter is only the most obvious one.
  • Meaningful Name: Dolores. It means pain.
  • Mindlink Mates: Hfuhruhurr and Anne, natch. Why they share this Psychic Link is never explained.
  • The Mourning After: Hfuhruhurr for his first wife.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Dolores, again, it's parodied. She's so hot, in a deleted scene she makes a bellhop instantly go through puberty.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: Combined with Soft Water.
  • Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date: Hfuhruhurr and Anne.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Parodied when Dolores growls at Hfuhruhurr, "I'll get you for this, you nigger kike wop!"
  • Ramming Always Works: The Viennese police ask Necessiter's neighbor for a battering ram to break into the doctor's apartment, and get one. Through a series of errors, they ram all the way across and fly out the building into a pool.
  • Right Through the Wall: Necessiter's awesome apartment has "stone walls" made of paper. His butler even punches through one to demonstrate. He does not get along well with his neighbors.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Hfuhruhurr never sees, or unwittingly chooses not to see, that Dolores is cheating on him with nearly every male she comes across.
    Dolores: (seeing the gardners) Who are those assholes out in the garden?
    Hfuhruhurr: (chuckling) They're pronounced azaleas.
  • Serial Killer: The Elevator Killer, who injects window cleaner into his victims. He turns out to be Merv Griffin, as himself.
  • Sexy Coat Flashing: Hfuhruhurr asks the prostitute if he can see the rest of her, prompting this.
  • Shout-Out: Hfuhruhurr loves Judy Garland's Under the Bamboo Tree. So does Anne.
  • Sorry Ociffer: Dr Hfuhruhurr is stopped by a traffic cop while attending a conference in Austria; when asked if he has been drinking, he replies "No, I dron't dink... don't drink".
  • Stock Shticks: Necessiter gets in the old "the patient lived, but the doctor died" joke. Still well-used.
  • Switch to English: Dr. Hfuhruhurr gets pulled over by a German-speaking policeman. When he replies to the policeman in English, the policeman says, "Oh, you speak English! Good!" and directs his partner to turn off the subtitles.
  • Talking to the Dead: Hfuhruhurr asks the soul of his departed former wife for a little sign, even the smallest sign, that she disapproves his marriage to Dolores. After the entire house shakes and spectral voices wail "NOOOOOO!" and short out the lights for a minute or two, he decides that not getting even a little sign from her means she's OK with it.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Fran. When she asks what injecting her with window cleaner will do, Dr. Hfuhruhurr tells her that it'll kill her, leaving the brain to die last.
    Fran: I don't mind!
  • The Unpronounceable: "Hfuhruhurr." Various characters take unsuccessful stabs at it, though the doctor claims it's pronounced exactly as it's spelled. He pronounces it "Hoff-hhhhaaarrrrrr." Anne Uumellmahaye is another example, though her name is pronounced more or less how it's spelled: "Uuuuhhhh-mell-muh-hay." The fact that they can both pronounce each other's names perfectly on the first attempt is a sign that they're soulmates.
    Anne: How else is it supposed to be pronounced? It's spelled H-F-U-H-R-U-H-U-R-R, isn't it?


Example of: