Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Roxanne (1987)

Seen: On netflix instant on our big screen/projector set-up.

Based on Cyrano de Bergerac, a play I've never seen/read but certainly recognize aspects of, Roxanne stars Steve Martin (who also wrote the screenplay) as CD Bales, a friendly fire chief with a surprisingly large nose (he's kinda sensitive about it though so I wouldn't mention it if I were you). Though he's intelligent, cultured, funny, and generally well-liked by everyone in town, he doesn't have much luck with the ladies due to his appearance. When aspiring astronomer Roxanne (Daryl Hannah) arrives to study the stars, he falls for her instantly and they become fast friends. Unfortunately she is infatuated with the inarticulate and shallow (but handsome?) firefighter Chris (Rick Rossovich). To make Chris look smarter- and indirectly tell her how he himself feels- CD writes Roxanne love letters in Chris's name, beginning a deceitful three-way romance.

Laced with Martin's trademark blend of utter goofiness and high-brow wit, Roxanne is a cute little romantic comedy with several stand-out moments but a tired central premise. As always Steve Martin is charming and likable as the quick-witted CD, whipping out a string of nose-related jokes in one memorable scene and waxing poetic in several others. He throws in some fun physical comedy too. The supporting cast includes Fred Willard, Shelley Duvall, and Michael J Pollard, who all share some silly moments with our lead guy. Daryl Hannah isn't given much to do except drool over the not-very-attractive Chris and laugh at CD's jokes, but isn't that the plight of so many women in romantic comedies?

The thing about Roxanne is that I find the whole "Oh I'm ugly but I love a pretty person so I'll tell a dumb handsome person what to say and basically trick the person I like into entering a relationship under false pretenses" storyline to be really stupid. Steve Martin didn't invent it so I'm not blaming him, but he is perpetuating it. It basically serves to make Roxanne herself look like an idiot while CD is a tragic romantic hero. Luckily Martin is so engaging and likable in the role that viewers probably won't notice at first, but it's there. I appreciate a lot of the film's parts- from the talented cast to the goofy sight gags and wordplay- but as a whole the premise doesn't really do it for me.


Pair This Movie With: Well the main other movies I can think that play on this theme are Whatever It Takes and The Truth About Cats and Dogs, but neither of those are very good. You could always just make it a Steve Martin night with The Lonely Guy or The Jerk.


  1. I gotta say, this is one of those movies that I kind of consider a guilty pleasure. It the long run it isn't a really good film but I find something about it very charming. I think I just really like the character of CD Bales. Also, the scene with the 20 nose jokes is quite hilarious. Now I kind of want to go watch this movie right now.

  2. I liked 'The Truth About Cats and Dogs'...

  3. Yeah, I also kind of like The Truth About Cats and Dogs... mostly because I have a huge crush on Janeane Garofalo though.

  4. I personally love this one, its got a relaxed romantic suburban atmosphere to it, plus Steve Martin is gold on this one for me. Also, Darryl Hannah looks all kinds of beautiful in this one. A quintesential 1980's romantic comedy.

  5. Okay Okay. But Daryl Hannah was pretty hot.

  6. Yes, the Cyrano plot is so overplayed. But Steve Martin not wrangling a bunch of kids with Bonnie Hunt is all I need to make me happy.

  7. Rick and Rich: I love Janeane Garofalo too, which is why I have trouble with that movie since it doesn't really do much for her and as I said, I don't like the premise much. She actually hates how it turned out herself and has denounced it. I think it's watchable (I've seen it several times), I just wouldn't really recommend it to people.

    Film Connoisseur: I liked the relaxed suburban atmosphere, too, and yes the leads definitely make it worth it!

    Jon: Yeah yeah I know!

    Alexa: God, so true!

  8. I never realized that The Truth About Cats and Dogs was another Cyrano update. Or maybe I've just forgotten - it's been like 15 years since that came out, so that's entirely possible.

    Anyway, I too am a lover of Roxanne. A bad one, though, since it's been a while since I caught up with it. Frankly, I think it (and LA Story) are underloved as far as Martin's canon goes. This one is just overwhelmingly charming. And I want to pair it with Lucas, if I may. :)

    And how dare you speak ill of Slider like that! I always thought he was a hunky guy and wondered why he didn't have a bigger career. Though he never appeared to be the greatest of actors...

  9. This and LA Story are two of my favorite Steve Martin films. Not something I can put my finger on, it's just one of those films that I can always sit and watch no matter how many times I've seen it.

    I do think that the "trick someone into falling in love" plot speaks to human nature. I think the film is saying (to a certain degree) that people see what they want to see, regardless of whether the truth is right in front of them or not. I mean, it is a comedy, and not to be read into too deeply, but I don't find the motivations of the characters as suspect as you did.

  10. I vote "guilty pleasure" with this favorite but I understand detractors. I think Daryl Hannah's "job" (astrophysics rocket-science astronomer?!! Oh puh-leeze!) is a HUGE problem right off. Cast her as a burned-out actress fleeing Hollywood. A burned-out model taking a break from NYC or Milan.

    While it's easy for me to 'crush on' Daryl in so many of her films - and this one too - she will NEVER sound like an astronomer. She does this Keanu-Reeves Surfer-Dude Chiclet drawl too well - she needs to be given roles that use that attribute.

    This WOULD have made her "stupidity for not noticing the obvious" so much easier to accept.

    I have such positive feelings about the supporting cast (Fred W, Shelley Duvall, Michael J) that it's tough for me to not enjoy this film.