TriStar Pictures | Release Date: February 8, 1991
7.2
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Generally favorable reviews based on 23 Ratings
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7
SpangleJun 29, 2017
Pairing together Steve Martin with his then-wife Victoria Tennant, the Mick Jackson directed L.A. Story delivers a delightfully funny and charming romantic comedy, even if it never quite lives up to many of its aspirations. Written by StevePairing together Steve Martin with his then-wife Victoria Tennant, the Mick Jackson directed L.A. Story delivers a delightfully funny and charming romantic comedy, even if it never quite lives up to many of its aspirations. Written by Steve Martin as a love letter to Los Angeles, but also a critique of the city he loves, L.A. Story really nails this feeling early on before slipping into pure rom-com convention with overwhelming cuteness dominating the underwhelming final act. Until then, however, the film's smart mix of Martin's deadpan humor with observational remarks about the city and its inhabitants, absurdist hyperbole, or simple one-liners really makes for a engaging watch in a well-written comedy. Though the film may come down too safely to really click as an entire film, it nonetheless offers strong enough satire and smart enough commentary on men and women in relationships to come out ahead in the end.

Starting off with the farcical and absurdist satire that could be found in a Mel Brooks film or in a Zucker brothers & Abrahams film starring Leslie Nielsen, L.A. Story gets off to a phenomenal start. Introducing us to Harris K. Telemacher (Martin), the film initially positions him as a Nielsen-esque character from Airplane or The Naked Gun. Cutting through homes in his car as he buckles in to get to work as a weatherman, this is a man who initially does not seem to be in on the joke. Later, when he frantically realizes that it is "open season" on the LA freeway and he must defend himself from other drivers with his gun, he continues to be a man that takes things so matter of fact. As increasingly absurd things happen to Harris, he is never frazzled and instead approaches it as a common occurrence in his daily life that is hardly worth paying attention to. When others are shocked, such as Sara (Victoria Tennant) during the earthquake, he continues to be oblivious to the fact that others would find this situation unnatural. Putting Martin in this position is an excellent comedic choice given his skill at delivering deadpan comedic lines. As a comedian, he seems to know how to make people laugh without realizing it was supposed to be funny himself. In the role of Harris, a man who takes himself incredibly seriously despite his laughable job, Martin is a natural.

However, the film begins switching gears. It keeps fantastical elements - such as Harris' encounters with the highway signpost - but it switches to be a more run-of-the-mill romantic comedy once SanDeE* (Sarah Jessica Parker) is introduced. Using her to distract himself from his burgeoning romance with Sara, SanDeE* is a bubbly and dumb as rocks young girl who catches Harris' eye for two reasons. Unfortunately, with her introduction, the film quickly settles into turning itself into more of an examination of relationships. Whereas the more absurd first half really zeroed in on smart satire about Los Angeles with comments about the weather, obsession with "California cuisine", nonchalant reactions to earthquakes, and deadly traffic, the film turns around into being a film about an older man with a younger woman. Though some satire remains, such as comments about health freaks via the "enema date" gag, it quickly descends into nothing more than a sanitized romantic comedy with fantastical elements.

This is never more apparent than when the film's commentary on men and women being together - men dating women younger than them or feeling jealously about the girl they want sleeping with other men even when they sleep with other women themselves - takes center stage. Ditching the farcical nature of its satire rich first half, this second half winds up playing out like an Albert Brooks film. With romantic commentary, strong comedy, and a character just trying to make sense of it all, L.A. Story likes the comedic punch of a Brooks film in these moments, but it nonetheless bears similarities with Brooks' work, especially Modern Romance. Though Martin is not nearly as neurotic, the jealousy and agony based commentary set against the backdrop of Los Angeles and the insanity of life there makes for an easy comparison.

However, perhaps the most apt comparison for L.A. Story is the work of Woody Allen. Known for both fantastical plots and romantic comedies, L.A. Story feels like a film Allen would have made if it were set in New York City and featured a more neurotic protagonist. Though its visual gags are more slapstick and akin to early Allen, the film eventually settles into the nice fantasy romantic comedy shtick that Allen has perfected the formula for. With quick and witty one-liners, observational comedy, and some practically divine intervention interrupting the proceedings, the film packs the same frenetic and chaotic style of Allen sans the misanthropic philosophy.
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8
JulieCraigJul 29, 2019
Steve Martin is a legend, and you only have to see LA Story to see why. It won't be a stretch to say that the funnyman not only portrays the lead in this film, but he must have had been wearing a lot many hats, which shows. LA Story is an odeSteve Martin is a legend, and you only have to see LA Story to see why. It won't be a stretch to say that the funnyman not only portrays the lead in this film, but he must have had been wearing a lot many hats, which shows. LA Story is an ode to the city of Los Angeles- and it came out in an era when the film stock totally enhanced the Los Angeles atmosphere. Drenched in the yellowish tinge that wraps the city of Angels LA Story is about a LA weatherman and his travails as he goes about capturing the essence of his beloved city. What Woody Allen's Manhattan was to the big apple, Martin's LA Story is to Los Angeles. There are many cameos from the stars of that era and Martin's low restrained dead pan humor is excellent. There have been many films made in the city of angels that honor the city but few have managed to capture the angelo essence as well as LA Story.An ode to the city of angels by a legendary comic. Expand
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