The Film (3.5/5)
In the small town of Nelson, Washington, the head fire chief is a special man. C. D. Bales (Steve Martin) is a wise man, with an obsession with encyclopedias, he has a sassy attitude, and strong fighting skills. But his one problem is his huge goblin like nose. He Constantly avoid insults and fights over his nose, Bales feels like true love isn’t for him. Fate steps in when he meets the young astronomy student named Roxanne (Daryl Hannah), and starts to fall madly in love with her. But she has her sights on the new fireman Chris (Rick Rossovich), the only issue, he is a complete idiot. So now Bales is roped in to a plot where writes letters for Chris to try and Seduce Roxanne. But will he crack and show his real feelings?
Steve Martin has always been a hot and cold comedian for me. Sometimes brilliant and sometimes too out of control. He has written and starred in many comic classics, like THE JERK (who’s narration is one of the funniest in film history) and PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES. But at the same time has made some tired remakes of earlier classics, like PINK PANTHER, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN, and the decent FATHER OF THE BRIDE. By far his most interesting films are the more obscure ones that don’t get as much attention. Two of my favorites are MY BLUE HEAVEN and the BEDTIME STORY remake DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, both of which mix unexpected slapstick with some subversive writing that sinks in after two or three viewings. ROXANNE fits into this later category.
The screen play by Martin is an update of the classic story of Cyrano de Bergerac, and while chunks of the movie seem unfocused, the script and characters are highly enjoyable with some terrific wit and original sight gags. ROXANNE shows many layers to Steve Martin as an actor and it’s easy to see why this movie has a strong cult status. ROXANNE is filled with unexpected moments, a strong supporting cast, and stylish direction from Fred Schepisi (THE RUSSIA HOUSE). Two strong comic set pieces in the movie are the opening golf club vs Tennis racket fight scene and the classical music set fireman training montage. As for direction, the movie showcases some terrific widescreen composition giving the film a late 50’s feel. The Washington setting is used to great effect with all its mountains and hills, giving it a Twin Peaks like feel.
The cast is full of colorful performances and everyone is spot on. Daryl Hannah (SPLASH) gives her character the right amount of romance and earthly every woman tone, that makes her likable from scene one. Rick Rossovich (TOP GUN) is a likable beef head with quick slapstick timing. Shelley Duvall (NASHVILLE, POPEYE) gives one of her most natural performances as Martin’s god sister. Fred Willard (ANCHORMAN) and Michael J Pollard (TANGO AND CASH) are also great as the Major and one of the fellow Firemen.
Eureka! Releases ROXANNE on a region B Blu-ray / Region 2 DVD combo pack. * The movie comes with two audio tracks. First up is the English DTS-HD Master Audio Track with a 5.1 mix. The sound design of the movie is shown to full effect and it’s a pleasure to listen to. The soundtrack by Bruce Smeaton is uneven and sometimes too romantic, but here it’s loud and clear without becoming over bearing. The Uncompressed Stereo LPCM track is lovely, but is a bit louder in spots. So, depending on your sound system it’s a tossup. Easy to read English subtitles are included.
The 1080p HD transfer is near perfect with its extraordinary use of the natural colors and surprising cinematography, that is massive in scope for a romantic comedy. The black levels are smooth with light shadows and some splendid night time scenes. The picture is sharp and in focus with only a few minor scenes looking soft. The bar scenes are also glowing with the vivid colors. It’s hard to believe how gorgeous this comedy can look.
The extras are limited to the theatrical trailer.
ROXANNE is a highly entertaining comedy, that has the right amount of heart. Some of the movie seems too shapeless, but the cast and script make it worthwhile. Steve Martin is a hit or miss kind of guy, and I’m happy to report this is a hit. The Eureka Blu-ray is fantastic to look at and it shows off the care taken in every scene to make the movie a fest for the eyes. Highly Recommended.
*Same Extras on the Region 2 DVD.