Roxanne (1987)
Roxanne (1987)

Genre: Romantic Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 47 min.

Release Date: June 19th, 1987 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Fred Schepisi Actors: Steve Martin, Daryl Hannah, Rick Rossovich, Shelley Duvall, Fred Willard, Michael J. Pollard, Damon Wayans

 


 

M

oderately paced jazz is the music of love for the romantic comedy “Roxanne,” based loosely on the famous Edmond Rostand play “Cyrano de Bergerac.” The story itself is a timeless tale of love hindered by a colossally appalling facial feature, but screenwriter Steve Martin shakes things up a bit with generous amounts of whimsical comedy. At times, it’s too much, going almost as over-the-top as his “Pink Panther” films – themselves merely a vehicle for a one-note-laugh, highly exaggerated Frenchman impersonation. In “Roxanne,” he seems to channel the overacting of Jim Carrey, taking the already unbelievably Pinocchio-faced lead character in a direction of total poppycock. Sadly, most of the humor falls completely flat.

In the small town of Nelson, Washington, fire chief Charles D. Bales (Steve Martin) is a hopeless romantic, perpetually poetic and kind, but plagued by an inescapably large nose. When he meets Roxanne Kowalski (Daryl Hannah), a stunningly beautiful astronomer (or so the other actors must pretend), he immediately falls in love. She’s everything he could want in a woman, but she sees him only as a friend. Roxanne is instead infatuated with the muscular new fireman Chris McConnell (Rick Rossovich), who recently joined Charlie’s team.

Although he also wishes to see more of Roxanne, Chris lacks confidence with women, reduced to a clumsy mess in their presence. Given the opportunity to convey his true feelings to the girl of his dreams, Charlie agrees to write a letter to her for Chris. When his lyrical wordsmanship instantaneously seduces Roxanne, Charlie finds himself continuing to woo her for the benefit of his competition. But how can she love him for who he is when he has such a hideously humongous nose?

Where Cyrano fought with a sword, Charlie fights with a tennis racket against golf clubs. Although he commands an incredibly inept anti-“Backdraft” fire department, he excels at physical and verbal jousting, the former contributing to much of the cheesiness of the plot, while the latter accounts for the few genuine laughs. Oddly enough, the explanation for why Charlie won’t simply get a nose job is more believable than his noble intentions for continuing to sweep his dream girl off her feet and into the arms of a scatterbrained hunk. “Roxanne” tragically and carelessly teeters on the border of harmless romantic comedy and eye-gouging filmic nonsense, making it less than appealing for viewers not smitten with Martin’s brand of comedy. Longtime fans, however, may see this project as a highlight.

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10