* Prices may differ from that shown
The idea of transferring a story about the romantic frustrations of a flamboyant and unfortunately endowed 17th century Gascon into a 1980s small-town setting in America might have sounded implausible to some, especially when the Gascon in question was famous for his expert use of both a sharp and deadly wit and a sharp and deadly rapier, not skills normally associated with 1980s small-town living. But Steve Martin clearly saw the possibilities in such a thematic shift. Why else would he have so keenly perused Edmond Rostand's majestic play Cyrano de Bergerac for ideas? Unfortunately, Martin only saw fit to lift from it part of the original story and a few comic set-pieces, just enough to imbue his very own screenplay with some feeble sparkle to raise the occasional giggle and attract an award or two; which it did, strangely enough. Hooray for Hollywood.
In Roxanne, directed by Fred Schepisi, Martin plays C.D. Bales (geddit?), a town fire-chief who has much going for him: he's witty, charming, eloquent, big-hearted, brave, noble, and popular. He also sports an enormous nose, that cramps his style and confidence somewhat. C.D.'s acceptance that his love life will only ever be fulfilled imaginatively is tested by the arrival in town of beautiful astronomer Roxanne Kowalski (Daryl Hannah), a young lady with whom he secretly falls in love and who seems to return his affection. However, much to C.D.'s frustration, Roxanne's eye is caught by another recent arrival in town, new fire-station pro and prime hunk of gym-honed beefcake Chris McConnell (Rick Rossovich).
But Chris, despite his good looks and desire to engage with Roxanne, suffers from crippling anxiety when around women and is consequently about as eloquent as a foghorn. C.D. suggests that Chris should declare his feelings for Roxanne by letter instead, but when Chris is unable to write a coherent sentence, C.D. crafts the letter for him. Roxanne's knees are set a trembling by the letter's eloquence and romantic tone and she demands more, which C.D., via Chris, provides. It works, and Roxanne falls head over heels in love with the (apparently) honey-tongued hunk. But just who (or what) is Roxanne actually falling for, and how can the subterfuge be maintained? And should we really care?
This being a Steve Martin film, there are enough laughs on offer to make the film worth enduring, but only just. Martin's mildly manic routines, peppered as they are throughout the film, are a fairly hit-and-miss selection, sometimes working and sometimes inducing groans. The film contains a few witty one-liners and clever remarks, but much of the comedy on offer is laboured and obvious, giving the distinct impression that too much time was spent trying to make plausible an implausible central character, with the supporting comedy around him simply being dreamed up on the spot in the hope that an audience would be so dazzled by Martin's sparkle that enough goodwill would be left to tolerate the dreary overspill.
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with this film; it never tries to be anything more than it is, which is a lightweight, good-natured romantic comedy in which nobody gets hurt and nobody, ultimately, is left unhugged and unloved. It's just that the central premise is so completely unconvincing that it's almost impossible to believe what unfolds would actually do so. Of course it's a fable, and fables can say and do what they like, but we have to be willing to suspend at least some disbelief, and that's really difficult to do; there are just too many temptations to say: "Yeah, right."
The original story is not so implausible, and carefully done, as it has been (and then some), we can easily become absorbed, whether it's done for laughs or not. The problem here is that Martin simply updated the setting and not the tone, and forgot entirely about the charm, pathos, and tragedy. Poetic epithets that may have impressed in 17th century France and led to a snatched kiss are hardly likely to be what's required by a late-20th-century gal about town, however much she may wish to be wooed before slipping between the sheets. The fact we're expected to believe that the faux poetic tosh crafted by C.D. and delivered by his muscle-bound proxy is what Roxanne craves and is won over by is ridiculous. It's a little like being asked to believe that Alex Reid won Katie Price's heart with a cunningly delivered Shakespearean sonnet; though at least the very blond Ms Hannah here displays a fair deal of elegance and poise, not something the Brit jug-monster is ever likely to do.
The performances are all fairly forgettable. Martin himself is endearing enough as C.D., and is at his best when re-enacting updated set-pieces pinched from his French source, but he is generally bland and rather dull throughout; an all-round nice bloke with a witty turn of phrase and nothing more. Rick Rossovich plays C.D.'s love rival as a great big cheery heap of nothing. He's all pecs, teeth, and tan; enough perhaps to warm his female admirers of an evening but hardly enough to convince the demanding (and sophisticated) Roxanne for a moment, even if his words are supplied by another. The moment he opens his mouth in front of her, whatever he's saying, is surely enough to convince the lady that although he may be good for a roll in the hay, he's hardly the originator of the flowery endearments he delivers. Yet she falls for it. Daryl Hannah is much the same in this film as she is in any other film I've seen her in; she's a bit dreamy and vacant, sort of sweet but with a moony and detached air about her. She's okay, but, again, only just.
The rest of the cast just muck about in the background, providing some 'comic' interludes and filling up the film's corners. Shelley Duvall is the most visible of the secondaries, playing a café-owning friend of C.D. who periodically lends a sympathetic ear to her frustrated pal. She's actually very sweet in that gentle toothy way of hers, though I can never watch her without thinking of Olive Oyl in Popeye. The town fire-fighters, C.D. and Chris aside, make great virtue of their amateurism, and a recurring joke throughout the film is how spectacularly incompetent they are. Tortuous slapstick scenes abound, and although the first might raise a titter, by the seventh or eighth the dead horse has been well and truly flogged and is beginning to stink. Perhaps as this film runs in at around 1 hr 35 mins these scenes were added simply to flesh things out a bit. Not a good sign.
The whole production has a distinctly well-scrubbed and dazzling appearance to it, with the small town in question looking like it has never suffered a leaf or a piece of litter to fall unpunished on its sidewalks. The worthy citizens too seem smug with the knowledge that crime only ever happens elsewhere. Even the tiles on the roofs that C.D. treads when athletically trying to impress the lovely Roxanne look to be straight out of the box. It's the all-American fantasy town that only crops up in the movies... or occasionally on the TV news when one of its more deranged citizens runs amok. The mountainous setting hints at up-market Colorado though the whole shoot was actually carried out in a town in British Columbia. It's also interesting to observe how the more fashionable men about town display carefully highlighted mullets and roll up the sleeves of their 'sports coats' à la Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice. The 80s now seem so long ago, thank heavens.
Roxanne is actually a well-regarded film, with many, apparently, finding it hilarious. I just can't see why. I've nothing against Steve Martin as such, and at his best he can (or could) be very funny. He's even quite funny here in places. And his next film, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, occasional schmaltz aside, is a comedy favourite of mine, though much of my affection for the film is down to the perfect interactions between Martin and John Candy. But Roxanne is a film that is just plain lazy and doesn't really try to convince, settling instead for a predictable mix of Martin set-pieces and random silliness, with just a dash of fake sugary pathos added to persuade the audience that there might actually be something at stake. Is there ever in films like this? I suspect that early on it was realised that Martin's script wasn't really going to work and instead of a re-write it was decided simply to dress it up a little with some tinsel and a few pointless diversions.
All told, this is just one of those films I don't get. Many actually praised Steve Martin at the time for his clever and witty updating of Rostand's original play. God knows what, in their estimation, a bad version would have been like. Roxanne is not so much a bad version as not really a version at all, and seen in that light it's just about watchable if you have nothing else to do. But if you want a better comedy to watch then there are thousands to choose from, even a few Steve Martin efforts. And if you want to see this story told properly then watch Jean-Paul Rappeneau's magnificent 1990 big-screen adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac in which Gérard Depardieu shows us how it should be done... that is, with panache!
This DVD is a routine package containing scene selection, an original theatrical trailer, the requisite Dolby Digitality for sound buffs as well as soundtracks in five languages and subtitles in a couple of dozen more. The feature lasts for around 1 hr 35 mins and is rated PG.
This is an American comedy adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, it moves the action from France to small town America where Chief Bales (Steve Martin) is the local Fire Chief and part time poet who unfortunately has a massive nose.
Bales falls in love with local astronomer Roxanne (Daryl Hannah) a beautiful woman looking for companionship. Bales realises that his appearance bars him from wooing Roxanne and decides to help Chris (Rick Rossovich) the dimmest but best looking Fireman in the town to make Roxanne love him.
Bales writes prose for Chris to give to Roxanne and she falls under the spell of his beautiful words but can Bales convince Roxanne that love is more important than looks.
Steve Martin ... C.D. 'Charlie' Bales
Daryl Hannah ... Roxanne Kowalski
Rick Rossovich ... Chris McConnell
Shelley Duvall ... Dixie
John Kapelos ... Chuck
Fred Willard ... Mayor Deebs
Max Alexander ... Dean
Michael J. Pollard ... Andy
Steve Mittleman ... Ralston
Damon Wayans ... Jerry
Matt Lattanzi ... Trent
Shandra Beri ... Sandy the Barmaid
Blanche Rubin ... Sophie
Jane Campbell ... Dottie
Jean Sincere ... Nina
For me this was quite a charming eighties film and is one of Steve Martin's better films, its a decent and intelligent comic adaptation of a classic story, this is a sweet natured film with a real feel good factor which is sometimes missing, its not too saccharine coated and is subtle enough to appeal to people of all ages.
The DVD is available for £3.99 on Play.com.
I think this has to be one of the best films i have ever seen for comedy its so funny.
Steve martin is one of the few people i really believe to be truly funny he adapts well to whatever roles he takes on and is a wonderful actor and delightful to watch.
I have seen him in some of his previous films including the father of the bride films the jerk and la story they were all fabulous and they were all extremely enjoyable to watch due to his incredible acting. He brings a unique quality to his films that a lot of other actors cant seem to follow and he is very convincing in the different persona's he takes on in his various films.
He plays a rather happy go lucky funny man who falls in love with Roxanne the newcomer to the town. He knows there is more to her than just how beautiful she looks and when she falls for a gorgeous but goofy incredibly stupid guy who happens to be the new fire fighter in town called Chris McConnel he is heart broken and he also is enlisted by Chris and Roxanne to get them both together.
Roxanne asks C D to help her and starts speaking about someone she likes when she says it she doesn't specify who it is at first she is describing Chris and CD gets the wrong idea and gets his hopes up thinking she's talking about him.
Talk about a tough blow to a man in love lol. One memorable line although there's too many to mention and I don't want to mention the more funny ones and take the fun out of it is when Chris asks how do I meet her and C D replies how about you just walk up to her in the street and talk to her to which Chris replies Nah id have to talk to her for sure then lol.
He is used to being mocked about his rather huge nose and has seemingly found a great way to deal with it by making a joke of it which attributes to some of the funniest scenes a movie can provide its viewers with like him standing up to bully's in some rather strange and entertaining amusing ways.
Deep down it makes him feel unlovable though and he doesn't believe any woman will have him especially not Roxanne who he woos with charming romantic love letters throughout the film while keeping his identity secret.
He is very desperately conscious of his nose and even turns to dramatic solutions including contouring makeup to de-emphasis his nose and attempting to get his doc to allow him to get surgery on his nose. You laugh but at the same time you feel great empathy for him and he really shows you what the characters going through.
His full name is Charlie bales although he is most frequently referred to as C D throughout the film. He is fire chief in a rather pleasant small idealistic town which looks like the sort of place most people would like to live in and he is respected to say the least.
The people who work for him are rather afraid to get on his wrong side so they do everything in there power not to mention his nose in front of him but they speak about it when hes not there its quite funny to hear the banter and what they say although you can sympathize with his character a bit cos you know how horrible they are being
He makes many attempts to impress Roxanne which results in some rather amazing yet hilarious stunts at one part when she's locked out of her house he does some very impressive acrobatics to get to the window to let her in while having told her don't look I haunt done this before and indicating how dangerous it is and that it might have bad results lol.
I don't want to say all the witty one liners he uses or the sarcasm because its so funny to watch and to tell you prior to seeing it would spoil what is very very funny turns of phrases and sarcastic comments.
Plays Roxanne kowalski the woman Charlie falls in love with she is a beautiful astronomer she is similar to him in that's she is also very intelligent and she likes him too but he is too scared to do anything about it because he does not believe a girl like her could like him even though she shows signs of liking him from right back in the beginning of the movie when they first meet. He is too hard on himself and believes she cares only about looks and that she wants the full package intelligence and a perfect nose as he refers to it in more detailed rather hilarious scene later on.
When Roxanne meets Chris the new hunky fireman in town she is infatuated with him but its purely attraction. Its certainly is not for his brains because the guys daft as a brush and when he convinces C D to write letters for him to Roxanne when he actually meets her in person which only takes the wimp half a million years to do she wants him to live up to the words she is lead to believe he has wrote instead she is faced with a bumbling idiot that seemingly hasn't a brain cell in his head.
Far from the romantic Casanova coming through in the letters who happens to be C D once Chris comes along she seems oblivious to C D because she is so set on getting him but is he really all he seems? I would say not giving how daft and shallow he is whereas C D is extremely intelligent kind hearted and can hold a good conversation he understands her and is interested in her astronomy and they have a good connection were as Chris his connection to her is purely physical but films can be odd in how they end and I will not indicate how it ends i will leave that to you when you see it.
MICHAEL J POLLARD
Is someone else I cant go without mentioning this guy is rather clumsy and really just doesn't seem with it half of the time but there is some very funny scenes especially when he doesn't take C D s advice when he says hey Andy your Coat is on fire he walks away assuming is just a joke and is like yeah right and then when he does realize its true a very funny scene unfolds that is so funny and unforgettable much like the rest of the movie.
Plays the role of chuck who is infatuated with Roxanne and way too over confident in his cheesy chat up lines which are a big FAIL as everyone seems to knows but him. He doesn't impress the women he comes on to at all they see him with disgust not surprising with his sleazy chat up lines yet in his head he is a ladies man and they love him john is funny to watch and he portrays the role very well.
Also plays a great part in the film as a close friend to C D who gives him advice and helps him in a big way when it comes to Roxanne she is there for him and she's also friends with Roxanne.
Those where the characters that really stood out to me however there was so much in this movie and so many great actors even more than I did mention.
WATCH OUT FOR.
The scenes with C D and the elderly women there very very funny.
I certainly cant finish the review without mentioning the delightful soundtrack the music is just so nice to listen too.
Roxanne (1987)- Film only review
Every since Steve Martin started out as one of the new breed of stand up comedian he has always managed to divide opinion between fans who thought he was creating a distinctive quirky type of humour and those detractors that considered him too slap stick and inane. Over the years he has gradually matured his style first translating it to film with low-brow classics such The Jerk (1979), The Man With Two Brains (1983) and late to more intelligent comedy of Parenthood (1989) and more recently some serious roles in Leap Of Faith (1992). Roxanne made in 1987 probably represents the first film which really saw Martin attempt something a little outside his usual visual comedy slapstick comfort zone. This is in fact more of a romantic comedy than a straight comedy drama and Martin proves that he can be taken more seriously in role without being any less funny.
Roxanne is a modern if somewhat loose adaptation of the classic 19th century play Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. In the original Cyrano a heroic swashbuckling figure based on the true life Cyrano de Bergerac. The real life Cyrano was a dramatist and famous duellist in the 17th century who despite this has also become famous for the size of his nose. Steve Martin has updated the story to modern small town America where the heroic and swaggering Cyrano character has been transformed into C.D. 'Charlie' Bales the local fire chief and respected inhabitant of the small town of Nelson. C.Ds ordered life is disrupted by two new arrivals to the town, Chris a new recruit to the fire station and Roxanne a beautiful visiting Astronomer who he immediately falls for.
C.D is charming, athletic and intelligent and is liked by all; in fact he should be a great catch for any woman the only problem is his self consciousness about the length of his nose. It certainly is not something that can be ignored and all the people of the community have learnt to avoid making any references to it. Unfortunately the newcomers are unaware of this. Chris the hunky new fireman as the looks that C.D lacks but doesnt have much going on in his head and when he admits to C.D, that he has taken a liking to Roxanne unaware of C.Ds own feelings for her CD agrees to help him woo her. This is something he secretly wishes to do himself but doesnt give himself any chance because of his looks. In order to express his real feelings for her C.D is prepared to help Chris and let him take the credit. This is brilliantly illustrated during a Romeo and Juliet type balcony scene with a difference. The situation becomes ever more ludicrous as thanks to C.Ds help Roxanne does in fact fall in love with Chris.
CAST , PERFORMANCES AND OPINION
Steve Martin ... C.D. 'Charlie' Bales
Daryl Hannah ... Roxanne Kowalski
Rick Rossovich ... Chris McConnell
Shelley Duvall ... Dixie
John Kapelos ... Chuck
Fred Willard ... Mayor Deebs
Max Alexander ... Dean
Michael J. Pollard ... Andy
Fred Schepisi directs the film and the script is adapted from the original play by Edmond Rostand by Steve Martin.
Steve Martin has adapted the original play in a clever way, the swashbuckling Cyrano the greatest swordsman in all France as been update so that in one of the opening scenes he dispatches a couple of thugs not with a sword but with a tennis racket (a direct reference to the original play). Some of the key scenes in the play remain virtually unchanged. When a lout in a bar calls CD a big nose over some petty argument C.D. like Cyrano before him challenges him to a verbal competition - is that the best you can come up with? He then launches in to list of 20 themed insults about his own nose. For example
Personal: well, here we are, just the three of us
Humorous: laugh and the world laughs with you. Sneeze, and it's goodbye, Seattle!
Pornographic: finally, a man who can satisfy two women at once!
Polite: uh, would you mind not bobbing your head? The, uh, orchestra keeps changing tempo
The scene is funny but at the same time it includes an element of pathos too since we guess that many of the insults that C.D. rattles off to make his opponent look ridiculous are probably ones that he has had used against him in the past and it emphasises what he has been through.
Daryl Hannah looks stunning in this movie, right from the first scenes when she is found by C.D standing naked outside her house after locking herself (he gallantly comes to her rescue) we can understand why he immediately falls under her spell. It might be harder for us to believe that someone so beautiful could be an astronomer but even this prejudice plays in to the theme of the film that appearances can be deceptive and in the end it is whats on the inside that counts. She in turn is attracted to Chris because of his physical looks but she is seduced by the words that CD puts into his mouth. C.D on the other hand his also attracted initially by her looks but then resents the fact that she is so shallow to be attracted to Chris for his looks and its only after he comes to appreciate her nature exemplified by how she reacts to his words (mouthed by Chris or in letters) that he truly falls in love with her.
Despite many fine performances and a couple of great cameos form Michael J. Pollard and Shelly Duvall the film is dominated by Martin and he seems to relish the role his enthusiasm for the character easily infecting the viewer. The rest of the cast seem content to play second fiddle.
Since the original play is a tragic comedy while very funny in parts using a great amount of physical humour someone with Martins comic skills was always going to be adept in any version without trying too hard. However to give Martin due credit the updated story does more than simply set the original in a modern setting it modernises the themes and makes them more accessible for a contemporary audience and with the help of some good direction by Fred Schepisi the modern day Cyrano has lost none of its charm or pathos.
The script is bristling with great one-liners and witty dialogue.
"It must be wonderful to wake up in the morning and smell the coffee -- in Brazil."
"What's a light year? Same as a regular year only it has less calories."
I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream - and I hope you don't find this too crazy - is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, "Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!" That would be bad.
The balance between physical comedy and witty dialogue is just about perfect.
As an example of the romantic comedy genre this is certainly a cut above most of the lazy uninspired attempts we see these days. The story does follow a familiar formula; boy meets girl, girl meets other boy, boy has to win her back but with enough variations in that the two rivals for Roxannes affections are in effect mismatched and one helps the other gain that affection making the story more interesting than it would otherwise be.
As in other of Martins films some of his physical comedy remind me of the early silent movie stars and I think he lists Buster Keaton amongst his favourites, it seems that in this film he has drawn upon some of the physical humour of the early comedies. One stunt where he enters a house via the roof through an upstairs window is just one that homages the silent film era.
The one bone of contention I would have with the film is in its conclusion, which without giving away too much doesnt quite achieve the same dramatic impact as Rostands original. This is probably a decision taken with the American audiences in mind, a pity but not a major flaw. On the plus side the film never descend into the sugar coated sickly sentimentalism of so many romantic comedies that have often blighted otherwise fine films.
Overall this is one of Martins best films, which will please fans of his early more crass humour as well as fans of his later more thoughtful films.
Certificate PG in the UK
The film is available of DVD from Amazon for £3.97 (+p&p) at the time this review was written.
© Mauri 2007
In 1987, almost 100 years after its first production, the romantic story of Cyrano de Bergerac found new life in a winsome film written by Steve Martin. Roxanne updates the tale with a smart 80s' spin, yet writer-star Martin stays close to the old-fashioned heart of the matter. He plays a small-town fireman named CD Bales, whose otherwise unremarkable existence is crowned by an amazingly long nose. He falls for the world's most beautiful astronomer (Daryl Hannah), but he is embarrassed by the size of his proboscis and prefers to stay on the sidelines. Like Cyrano, the shy CD instead helps a handsome friend (Rick Rossovich) woo the fair lady by providing flowery sentiments and soulful poetry. Not only does the story still work, but director Fred Schepisi captures a dreamy grace in his visual design for the film (some of which will be lost without the widescreen format). Set in Washington State, but filmed in the hilly ski resort of Nelson, British Columbia, the location seems like a fairy-tale town, nearly as unreal as Steve Martin's nose. --Robert Horton, Amazon.com