STUDIO: Lion’s Gate
MSRP: $19.98
RUNNING TIME: 98 Minutes
• Outtakes
• Interactive Map
• Deleted Scenes

The Pitch

"Steve Martin lets it all hang out as a writer and actor in a tale of love in and with the city of Los Angeles."

The Humans

Steve Martin. Victoria Tennant. Sarah Jesica Parker. Richard E. Grant. Marilu Henner.

The Nutshell

Typically, a PG-13 comedy is something probably not worth seeing unless it’s animated or from one of the relatively few filmmakers able to accomplish much within the limitations of the MPAA’s policies. I’m not saying that profanity and nudity are neccessary, but comedy is about pushing the boundaries and being extreme and it’s really hard to do so while trying to reach the widest possible audience. So, I guess I am saying that profanity and nudity are pretty neccessary. Before he really descended into an abyss of remakes and karma shattering mainstream comedies, Steve Martin delivered as a creator of fine comedy. Often the centerpiece of beloved films, the eternally white-haired funnyman stepped to the word processor and made not one but two exceptional films within a ten year span. Roxanne was almost Steve Martin’s masterpiece with its warmth and virtuoso central perfomance. LA Story is his masterpiece. Here’s why…

"What, you’ve never seen a man made entirely of hemp?"

The Lowdown

Harris K. Telemacher is a weatherman. A silly one, unlike Flip Spiceland here in Atlanta who is obviously deadly serious. Harris thinks he has a perfect life with a perfect dame (Marilu Henner, still harnessing some serious va-voom in 1991) and a nice middle class living in the City of Angels. Sadly, his lady is a cheating filthy whore and his career is an unfulfilling jab in the chops. His eyes are opened when he meets the woman of his dreams in the form of real-life Martin ex Tennant, a British tuba player. His eyes are really opened when a traffic sign becomes his love counselor. What follows is antics galore, all filtered through a meloncholy and diversely hilarious early 90’s Martin filter.

"Don’t you just love Steve Martin?" …….."Don’t you just hate Jews?"

The film veers in and out of reality constantly and its whimsical nature is supplanted by rather acute jabs at West Coast culture, creating a really nice mix of satire and fairy tale and somehow Martin pokes fun at the fake boobs, smog, enema centers, and vacant mindset in a way that isn’t vindictive but a celebration. The jokes come constantly, often in subtle strokes so the film still yields nuggets on the fifth and tenth viewing and Martin is as likable and freed as he’s ever been onscreen. Somehow, this film is still a sleeper fifteen years later because it is so graceful and sweet in its comedy, a rare comedy that benefits from its rating.

It also was an eye-opener for many of Sarah Jessica Parker’s comedic gifts. As SanDeE* (yeah, that’s the correct spelling) she damn near steals the film from Martin with her perky and carefree performance, one which earned a lifetime pass from me. She’s so incredibly cute here and it’s a breath of fresh air to have the young and alluring "mistress" character not be anything more than a laid back tryst and not some vindictive or evil woman keeping our hero from finding his true love until the final act. There’s not of that trite romantic comedy bullshit that we see too much of, and it’s a blast to see Martin and Parker’s little side missions vie for laughs with Tennant and the always fun Richard E. Grant’s.

One of the best little tiny jokes of the 90’s.

There are so many memorable and quotable moments in this flick, I’d perfer to just allow the film to speak for itself. It’s really a unique animal, more at home when mentioned alongside the work of Sellers and Allen than Ramis and Murray and if Steve Martin makes 100 Bringing Down the House quality shitfests I’ll always have this, the quintessential Steve Martin movie.

When this came out I was working at a movie theater in Roswell, Georgia. A dump that somehow still exists despite its ancient interior and the faint smell of AntiChrist that permeates its walls. Me and a few friends would watch this film whenever the opportunity arose, sometimes as much as ten times in a week. It never got old and more and more it tainted what I expected from a "date movie", something that was smart enough to satisfy the cerebral film parts of my brain as well as the more superficial needs date movies exist for. So few have managed to skirt the line since, but there’s something really magical about this film that banishes the cynicism such an innocent and positive movie would normally garner.

I really think it’s got something about it that elevates it into the ranks of my favorite fifteen or twenty comedies of all time. A place occupied by stuff like This is Spinal Tap, Trading Places, A Fish Called Wanda, The Big Lebowski, and more recent stuff like Super Troopers and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. It’s that good.

A total classic in every sense of the word.

"I hear something." ……"That’s *pump* terrific *pump* honey."

The Package

This is the fifteenth anniversay edition of the film and thankfully the transfer isn’t as hideous as the first one, though this has never been the best looking film in the world. The features aren’t too numerous but the many deleted scenes including John Lithgow’s entire performance (which is a blast) is included and most of the scenes are really fun and it’s nice to finally see them. The rest of the features like the interactive map are fun but it’s not really a special edition. It would have been great to hear Martin revisit his best work in the past twenty years but alas.

Still, it’s a must-own and long after the idea of special features matter, the film will continue on as a beacon to all who chose to be graced by it.

8.5 out of 10