Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Roxanne – Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah in a Romantic Comedy

Written by Edmond Rostand and Steve Martin
Directed by Fred Schepisi

Earlier in his career, Steve Martin had what seemed to be a magic touch. He had a series of successful films with a few misses in between but was a top comedian for many years.  Roxanne was one of his films that doesn’t come to mind when you think of his films but is well worth a look.  Based on the classic novel by Cyrano de Bergerac, it’s updated to the period and done so quite well.

Steve Martin is C.D. Sales, a fire chief in a small town who has one rather outstanding feature – his nose.  He meets Roxanne (portrayed by Daryl Hannah), a beautiful astronomer with whom he becomes rather smitten.  C.D. has gotten a reputation of being pretty fearless in town, but when it comes to love he doesn’t have any confidence at all.

Chris (portrayed by Rick Rossovich) is a handsome new firefighter who’s also got the hots for Roxanne.  He’s quite good-looking but awkward in many other ways.  Soon, C.D. is helping Chris woo Roxanne despite the feelings he has for her.

Roxanne was a sweet romantic comedy that works quite well. Martin is excellent as C.D. as he tries to put on a brave face and make his way in the world. He contends with issues and not-so-friendly teasing related to his nose in an admirable way although he does lose it at times. I had the idea that he was suffering a lot more underneath than he was letting on and Martin conveys this in many subtle ways.

Rossovich as Chris is great as well. He’s likable but shallow, so it’s easy to root for C.D. and Roxanne without having to hate Chris. Rossovich portrays the character perfectly with good looks combined with a good degree of awkwardness.

It’s Daryl Hannah who shines here though. I would say next to Splash, this is one of her best comedic roles. She portrays Roxanne as someone who doesn’t see what’s obvious to all the rest of us but isn’t a mean person.  It was easy to like her.

The visual ratio on Roxanne has been cut for this DVD. The result is that there are moments when the pan-n-scan option used is quite apparent. I don’t know why it wasn’t released in the original widescreen aspect ratio, but it should be if it hasn’t been already. I detest pan-n-scan with a passion, so some of the issues might have to do with my own biases.

If you haven’t seen Roxanne and are looking for a nice romantic comedy, I highly suggest it.  It’s much better than some of the contrived stories I’ve seen as of late and the characters are completely likable.

7 replies »

  1. Thankfully, my Blu-ray copy of “Roxanne” is not presented in that godforsaken pan-and-scan (aka “fullscreen”) format. Ugh. I never did like pan-and-scan. That’s one of the reasons why I’m glad that VHS died and was replaced by DVDs and Blu-rays.

      • I could understand “pan-and-scan” being “necessary” during the VHS era due to the shape of TV screens (which could show movies from the 1930s, ’40s, and up-to-1954 ’50s because they were filmed/exhibited in “Academy aspect ratio) that fit square-ish TV screens. Letterboxing widescreen films was the only way that you could show an unaltered WS film on a “regular TV,” but a lot of viewers believed they were getting LESS of the movie because of the black bars on top and bottom. They were so used to seeing the whole screen being filled, plus they didn’t realize that pan-and-scan versions of, say, Star Wars or Roxanne were re-edits that were vastly different from what they’d seen in theaters.

        I’m glad that starting in the late 1990s, TV makers adopted the widescreen look as standard (I didn’t get my first widescreen set till 2009, though), and that as DVDs and Blu-rays evolved, the black “letterbox” bars vanished!

      • We had a big screen “floor model” tv that was a piece of furniture really that we got in the early 2000’s that was widescreen. That was impressive at the time. now I have an even bigger flat screen hanging on my wall. What they are making ow is really amazing. Back then, the bigger you go the more distortion there was ot the picture.

  2. This movie was in the theaters the week that I was due with my 1st. It was a heat wave and we didn’t have AC. Sparky would drop me off at the mall and I’d sit in the coolness until the movie theater would open. I would buy a ticket and then go in and watch the movie – several times! I think the movie manager was very kind and didn’t shoo me out as I was soooo pregnant! I think I must have seen that movie 8 times!

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