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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/5/2009
All Ratings out of
Extras: No Extras
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/3/2009
Looking at the history of American comedies, subtle humor usually doesn't fare very well. We love our slapstick movies and in recent years, gross-out humor has become king, but intellectual or obscure jokes don't seem to sit well with the masses. Sure, Woody Allen had his hey-day in the 70s, but it's been years since he had a comedy which was a true mainstream hit. So, what to do if you are a comedian who goes for the brain more often than the gut? Well, if you're Steve Martin, you learn to strike a balance between the silly and cerebral, and there's no better example of this than his 1987 project Roxanne.
Roxanne is set in the small mountain resort town of Nelson (somewhere in the Northwest). C.D. Bales (Steve Martin) is the chief of the town's inept volunteer fire department. C.D. is a great guy who is beloved by the whole town for his wit and spirit. There's just one weird thing with C.D. -- he has a huge, long, pointy nose. One night, he meets a woman named Roxanne (Daryl Hannah), who has been locked out of her house (naked!). C.D. helps her get back in and they chat. Not only does he find her beautiful, but he learns that she's an astronomer who is in town working on a project. C.D. is immediately smitten with her. Meanwhile, Chris McConnell (Rick Rossovich), a professional fire-fighter, has come to town to assist the crew. Chris spots Roxanne in a bar and the two make eye-contact. Chris wants to meet Roxanne, but he is afraid to approach her, so he convinces C.D. to write a letter for him. Of course, C.D. pours out his own feelings for Roxanne in the letter. This begins a love triangle where Roxanne is attracted to Chris, not realizing that his words are C.D.'s.
When Roxanne premiered over 20 years ago (I am so old!), it was met with very positive reviews and fairly decent box-office for a small comedy. (I remember watching it over and over on HBO.) And I'm pleased to say that the movie stills holds up today. Martin wrote the screenplay for Roxanne, basing it on the classic tale of Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. Martin takes the story of a large-nosed man who helps another man woo a woman and transposes it into a modern setting. But, that's really the only modern thing here, as the film has a whimsical, fairy-tale like quality to it. Some scenes, such as C.D.'s fight with two rowdy tourists or the scene where he falls out of a tree don't really make much narrative sense, but they still feel at home in this movie.
As noted above, Roxanne is able to deftly mix different kinds of comedy in order to be a real crowd-pleaser. There is some broad, slapstick comedy, provided in most-part by the blundering firemen, who are often seen fighting hoses or setting themselves on fire. (Veteran character actor Michael J. Pollard steals several scenes here.) There are also plenty of good lines in the movie, and one can't help but marvel at the scene where C.D. is challenged to come up with 20 jokes about the size of his nose. But, the previously mentioned subtle humor permeates this film. When C.D. arrives at Roxanne's house in the opening, he has a large tool box which he plans to use to unlock her door. He opens the box to reveal a credit card. (Will young people of today get that joke?) The fact that C.D. happens to be an expert gymnast, although no explanation for this is ever given, also happen to be very funny. My favorite scene, in which C.D. overreacts to a newspaper headline, makes no sense whatsoever, but it kills me every time. As we all know, from films like Shopgirl, Martin has a serious side as well, and the film takes the romantic angle somewhat seriously...enough to make it believable.
The movie's one weak link is the Chris character. Maybe it was supposed to be this way, but he's so unappealing that it's difficult to understand why C.D. helps him. Is it Rossovich's performance which makes Chris unlikable? As portrayed in the film, Chris is a somewhat conceited moron who suffers from severe social phobias. And while he certainly seems to need C.D.'s help, do we think that he's deserving of it? Having reservations about Chris makes it difficult to fully like Roxanne, as she found him attractive (Yes, I know, she thought Chris was saying the things that C.D. was actually saying...but still...)
Steve Martin has had plenty of ups and downs in his career, but you never hear Roxanne being discussed very much these days. Hopefully this new Blu-ray Disc release will introduce the movie to an new audience and serve as a reminder to those like me who loved the film when it was first released.
Roxanne rescues the cow on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 27 Mbps. Given the film's age, the image is sharp and clear, showing only a hint of grain and no defects from the source material. The picture is a bit soft at times however, which somewhat diminishes the level of detail. The colors look very good, most notably reds and blues, and the landscape shots gives us a good amount of depth. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Despite being lossless, this is a pretty lackluster track. The sounds are mostly relegated to the front and center channels with little in the way of stereo, surround or subwoofer effects. The few stereo effects are fine, but they certainly don't make this feel like Blu-ray sound.
There are no extra features on this Blu-ray Disc.
Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long