One of my favorite Steve Martin movies.

Steve plays Harris K. Telemacher, an LA TV weatherman who meets the woman of his dreams--a British journalist played by Victoria Tennant. So it's ultimately a love story, but it has frequent vignettes of life in LA, including sentient highway advisory signs, earthquakes, automobile culture, and the entertainment biz.

It was written by Steve, and also has lots of cool Enya music.

Best line? "Let me not drive!"

One of my favorites as well, the movie does an excellent job of combining humor and romance. The music blends in incredibly well with the more dramatic scenes, and Sarah Jessica Parker (pre-Sex in the City), Marilu Henner and Steve Martin are at their comic best. If you've ever been to L.A., none of the humor will escape you. Martin's added Shakespearean lines are but only a part of the wit of the film. Cameos to look out for are Woody Harrelson, Chevy Chase and Rick Moranis.

Other memorable lines:

"I could never be a woman. I would just sit at home and play with my breasts all day." -S. Martin

"I was deeply unhappy, but I didn't know it because I was too busy being happy all the time." - S. Martin

In the car, listening to the radio, Martin asks what the radio D.J. said. "He said it's the first day of spring," replies Henner. "Oh shit!" he returns, grabbing for his gun, "Open season on the L.A. freeway!"

Martin: "I don't think we should make love, all right?"
Parker (SanDeE*): "Okay, we'll just have sex."

Martin: "When I really analyze it, Trudi wasn't for me anyway. The only good times we had were having sex and laying in bed watching TV."
Friend: "I hate to tell you this Harris, but if you can find somebody you can have sex with and lie in bed and watch TV, you've really got something."

Obligatory imdb info:

Directed by Mick Jackson
Written by Steve Martin

Tagline: Something funny is happening in L.A.

Cast overview, first billed only:

Steve Martin .... Harris K. Telemacher
Victoria Tennant .... Sara McDowel
Richard E. Grant .... Roland Mackey
Marilu Henner .... Trudi
Sarah Jessica Parker .... SanDeE*
Susan Forristal .... Ariel
Kevin Pollak .... Frank Swan
Sam McMurray .... Morris Frost
Patrick Stewart .... Mr. Perdue, Maitre D' at L'Idiot
Andrew Amador .... Bob, News Anchor
Gail Grate .... Gail, News Anchor
Eddie De Harp .... Maitre D' at Brunch
M.C. Shan .... Rap Waiter at L'Idiot
Frances Fisher .... June
Iman (I) .... Cynthia

L.A. Story came out in 1991. I have been raving about it since 1992. I can't really explain why; even tonight, when someone asked us what it was about, my initiated friends and I drew a blank and said, "Let's just watch the tape." It's easier that way. But I may be able to flesh out the available information on the film:

The movie opens with a slow-motion montage set to "La Mer": a street of people in bathrobes bounding across their front lawns, in unison, to pick up the morning paper, as sprinklers churn away, reflecting the light; a perfect, symmetrical crash at a four-way stop. Then a closeup of Steve Martin's eyes. In voiceover, he tells us, "My name is Harris K. Telemacher. I live in Los Angeles, and I've had seven heart attacks - all of them imagined. What I mean to say is that I was deeply unhappy, but I didn't know it because I was too busy being happy all the time."

And yes, it goes on like this. He quotes Shakespeare. He chats up a gallows-humor, cockney-accented gravedigger (played by one Rick Moranis). As the Wacky Weatherman for a local TV news station, he drops the little icons of the sun and says, "There were going to be some clouds in Beverly Hills today, but the council voted against it so it's going to be sunny." Shortly thereafter, he's fired for being Too Egghead and Not Wacky Enough. This is Steve Martin at his best: satirical and silly at the same time; absurd as in genuinely funny, not as in highfalutin philosophical concept.

Enter Victoria Tennant, who was at the time Steve Martin's wife. As Sara McDowel, she is a stranger in a strange land: a journalist, but also an eccentric Brit, she appears at a large Hollywood lunch and says, of her recent international flight, "I'm a litle tired but it's nothing some sleep and a good fuck wouldn't cure." The entire table falls silent. Harris, of course, is charmed. An earthquake ensues.

The tone of the film to this point is simulatenously lyric and satiric; at this point, it starts going back and forth. Not that at this point we forsake the wisecracks in favor of romantic tripe; it's just that in between wisecracks, some serious metaphysical shit goes down: I'm talking about freeway signs that flash predictions like, "The weather will change your life twice." I'm talking about a reversal in the polarity of the earth. I'm talking about "Doo Wah Diddy" being the key to true love. It's heady stuff: the Enya-laden soundtrack only underlines that. As sugar-laden and romantic as this movie is at some points, it never stops being beautifully ridiculous: there's some cute, romantic-comedy banter, but fortunately, not a whole lot; there's a character who spells her name "SanDeE*"; there's Steve Martin roller skating in an art museum. But it nonetheless climaxes with the line, "A kiss may not be the truth, but it is what we wish were true."

Of course, the shift in tone is problematic at times - while one appreciates the overall strangeness, there are some scenes that are so strange (if hysterically funny) as to not quite fit with the rest of the movie. And some people may take issue with the fact that after twenty minutes of brilliant satire, the damn thing turns into a love story. But you know what? Those people need to get laid. What we've got here is vintage Steve Martin, and it's gorgeous enough to be forgiven whatever sins it may have committed. So rent the damn thing. You won't be sorry.

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