Review: L.A. Story

Directed by: Mick Jackson
Written by: Steve Martin
Starring: Steve Martin, Victoria Tennant, Richard E. Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker
Released: 1991 / Genre: Romance-Comedy / Country: USA / IMDB
Buy on DVD: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com
Part of our Top 10 Steve Martin Films
If you liked L.A. Story also check out: Roxanne
More reviews: Latest | Archive

Harris Telemacher (Steve Martin) is a TV weatherman in Los Angeles. He feels he lacks direction in life until a road traffic sign begins sending messages to help him find love and happiness.

Woody Allen wrote about his beloved New York City, making the classics Annie Hall and Manhattan to name just two. With the same zeal and affection, Steve Martin did the same for his adopted home Los Angeles. The city of angels, with its quirks and idiosyncrasies seen through the eyes of Martin’s existential book of gags, is depicted as a town built on illusion and excess. In Bowfinger Martin pokes fun at the industry that made him a star, in L.A. Story he parodies a pastiche of moments, traits, and people that make Los Angeles unique.

la story, l.a., steve martin, los angeles, romance, comedy,

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L.A. Story features one of Martin’s finest scripts. It’s a multilayered romantic-comedy that dares to comment on two very different themes: ‘love’, and ‘love in Los Angeles’. It also, less pretentiously than Martin’s Shopgirl, looks at the relationship between an older man and a younger woman. Amongst his other targets are L.A. traffic, upper-class social gatherings and artificial small talk, corporate television, gun and street crime, and the snobbery of art institutions. The beauty of his screenplay lies in its satire and celebration of L.A. life. It is also an original, refreshing tale about love, that attempts to discover how romance works under such social peer pressure. Martin hints at the idea this ‘pressure’ is an imagined cultural constraint, and to break away from it is to return to an innocence lost on those suffering the Los Angeles ‘condition’.

The film would certainly be rated higher in my top 10 had it had the confident and restrained direction of Roxanne-director Fred Schepisi. Mick Jackson, who helmed L.A. Story, sometimes struggles to implement Martin’s more surreal moments, the child/romance/dream-sequence proving to be a defining example of him getting it wrong. And, despite Enya’s awful music played too long and too loud at various times during the film, it’s more the fact it’s unneeded grandiose than a matter of personal music taste. Other than these minor interruptions, L.A. Story is one of Martin’s best, and most rewarding, movies.

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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