Plot: C.D. Bales (Steve Martin) is the local fire chief and often a kind, friendly person, at least until someone insults his nose. Bales’ has quite a prominent one and while most have learned to look past his unusual snoot, some use it as a chance to poke fun and he responds with various levels of aggression. Perhaps he will just roll with the joke, but he might take out his tennis racket instead. When a beautiful astronomer Roxanne (Daryl Hannah) comes to town, Bales is instantly smitten, but worries that because of his nose, she won’t be interested. This leads to rookie fireman Chris (Rick Rossovich) stepping in to woo Roxanne, but he soon learns that while she appreciates his looks, she prefers the personality of Bales, quite a conundrum. Bales offers to coach Chris on the finer points of romantic communication, but will he regret helping the rookie win the heart of the woman he pines for?
Entertainment Value: This is of course loosely based on Cyrano de Bergarac, what with the sizable nose and romantic proxy work, the latter of which has been explored in countless movies and television shows. Roxanne retains those basic tenets, but is by no means slavish to the source and in truth, is more of a vehicle for Steve Martin that happens to borrow those themes. The narrative follows a predictable path, but peppers all the scenes with Martin’s signature comedic style and some light romance, so the lack of surprises is no concern. I have to think for most people, how you feel about Martin is going to determine your enjoyment of Roxanne, as he is the central presence and the movie seems built around his talents. I think the movie has some good laughs and Martin does run with the character, but I wouldn’t rate this with his best efforts, more of a middle of the road picture. The pace is one issue for me, as some stretches are rather drawn out, which hurts the overall flow, while the run time is reasonable, but again a little too long for the material. I think perhaps a brisker, lighter approach might have worked better, but even as it stands, Roxanne is a solid, if not all that memorable effort that Martin’s fans should appreciate.
This movie surrounds him with a capable supporting ensemble, but no mistake, Roxanne is all about Steve Martin. The character might by inspired by Cyrano, but this is pretty much just Martin doing his usual routine and while that isn’t bad per se, it does limit the appeal of the movie. If you’re not into his comedic style, the film isn’t likely to sway you, though his fans will likely overlook the lesser elements of Roxanne, since his humor and performance are their main interest. I think he is fun here and earns some good laughs, but the material just doesn’t let him cut loose often. He is given some good dialogue, including some potent zings, but I prefer the more kinetic, almost over the top Martin, whereas this feels more restrained. That being said, he does bust out at times, such as the nose joke scene and the tennis brawl, so he is able to showcase several aspects of his comedic skills here. The supporting cast here includes Daryl Hannah, Kevin Nealon, Michael J. Pollard, Damon Wayans, Fred Willard, Shelley Duvall, and others, so Martin has some great talent to work with.
The Disc: Mill Creek Entertainment has released Roxanne on Blu-ray, with a more than solid visual presentation and a retro 80s VHS style slipcover, a move sure to delight the collectors in the market. The image here is sharp and clean, with good detail and depth throughout. The colors appear natural and contrast is consistent, while I noticed no digital issues whatsoever. Perhaps not the new scan & restoration fans dream of, but a quite good presentation.
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