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Some great gags here - the earthquake, the ATM scene, trying to book a reservation at a fancy restaurant. I'm genuinely surprised this film isn't more widely known and appreciated. And to be fair, I was barely aware of it prior to just watching it now.
I watched this yesterday with my roommate (who's only lived here in California/the US for 3 years…just enough to get most of the jokes, but not all of them) and we couldn't stop laughing! This film is older than either of us but all of it still holds true - from the easiest to tease suspects of about how we feel about earthquakes and every aspect of driving, to "californian cuisine" and plastic surgery jokes (I had to explain to my roommate that no, everyone doesn't just look great all the time, plastic surgery has just gotten really good here and nose jobs and eyelid surgeries are a right of passage for most, we can spot botox and facelifts when out-of-staters can't). This film is timeless.
L.A. Story was meant to be a response to New York Stories. I haven't seen New York Stories myself but I assume that there is a fair amount of romanticification of New York City itself. L.A. Story takes a similar idea and executes it to very good effect. The romantic side of New York I can totally see, probably because of all the TV shows and movies that are out there that make New York into this magical, never-sleeping metropolis of wonders. There are tons of shows and movies that are set in Los Angeles as well but I think we can all agree that it's not the same kind of thing.
When I think of the state of Los Angeles, I think of Hollywood, traffic jams on the freeway, pollution, crime, beaches, heat, Arnold Schwarzenegger and plastic surgery. There's some good stuff there as well as some bad. Steve Martin wrote the screenplay for L.A. Story and he's aware of all these things. The good and the bad of L.A. is joked about and it's also celebrated. The film is a glorious mash up of not only some brilliant humour but also of a compelling, romantic, fantastical tale.
Harris Telemacher (Steve Martin) is a weatherman on TV who lives an unsatisfactory life. He's got a girlfriend he's been seeing for a while but she's shallow and selfish. He happens to meet Sara McDowel (Victoria Tennant) at a lunch with some friends and he falls in love with her. With the help of a magical electronic highway billboard, he attempts to woo her.
The list of characters is littered with typical LA people you'd expect to see. Special mention has to go to Sarah Jessica Parker who plays a valley girl who's just a ball of energy. Opposite Steve Martin, there's some great opportunity for contrast. They have some great anti-chemistry that also makes for some good laughs. There are also some great cameos that I won't mention because it's worth it to see them totally blind.
L.A. Story is like a love letter to all things Los Angeles. The jokes cover everything from earthquakes, bad traffic and crime. The material that Steve Martin has written up is absolutely hilarious and on more than one occasion I was laughing my head off. Steve Martin is great himself and brings on lots of laugh on his own. The movie could get by without anything else but the comedy but it doesn't do that. While we're made to laugh at the ridiculousness of LA, we're also educated as to how there is something special there. There are a couple of moments that beautifully describe what I mean, as well as some almost dream-esque scenes that have the same effect.
There's also some beautiful use of music and that's only because of the use of three Enya songs. It goes along beautifully with the "LA dream" atmosphere and really, anyone who admits they don't like Enya is a liar. Plain and simple.
So is L.A. Story like any other romantic comedy? It could very well be if it weren't for the way Steve Martin injected a healthy dose of comedy as well as a smattering of LA love. The love story comes off as really powerful as a result and there's still the rest of the comedy that's there to love. Really, it's rare that a movie makes you laugh as much as this and make you invest so much into the romance between two characters. L.A. Story is one of the finest Steve Martin movies I've seen.
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