In this 1987 comedy, funny man Steve Martin stars as a modern day Cyrano de Bergerac, this time named Charlie, or C.D., Bales.
Charlie is the fire chief of a small town and is everything a girl could want. He’s funny, charming, poetic and intelligent. Charlie has just one problem: he happens to have a larger-than-average nose (an understatement, of course). Charlie becomes quite smitten with Roxanne (Daryl Hannah), the beautiful astronomer who comes to town for its clear skies. Of course, Roxanne prefers the company of the handsome but inept-around-women Chris, played by Rick Rossovich. Charlie starts writing daily love letters to Roxanne, but Roxanne believes they are from Chris and consequently falls in love with Charlie’s personality and Chris’s good looks. Now all Charlie needs is the confidence to believe that someone like Roxanne could ever love someone like him.
The PG rating and Martin’s all-around lovable character make Roxanne not only suitable for children but also a film that can stand the test of time. It is refreshing because the film centers on a love based on more than just physical appearance. Besides, Charlie’s plight is one that we can all relate to; all of us have that one feature we are afraid of showing the world and being ridiculed for. Another aspect of the movie that makes it timeless is that it doesn’t seem like a typical 80’s film. Maybe because it is based on “Cyrano de Bergerac,” but Martin’s screenplay could be set in any small town in the 80’s, 90’s or today.
Though unlike most of his other works, Martin gives an excellent and realistic performance in Roxanne and supporting roles by actors like Fred Willard take the comedic aspects of the film to a higher level. One of the most memorable scenes remains the one where Charlie is hassled by a jerk at a bar and embarrasses him by improvising 20 “big nose” jokes better than the one he tells Charlie.
However, Roxanne still follows a seemingly typical Hollywood storyline: unusual boy meets beautiful, unreachable girl. Boy falls in love; girl falls in love with someone else. Uncomfortable moments ensue and viewers anticipate a fairytale ending. Luckily, unconventional takes on conventional humor save the film from the depths of Textbook Hollywood Boulevard.
Funny and touching, I would recommend Roxanne to lovers and loathers of Steve Martin alike. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be familiar with the story of Cyrano de Bergerac to enjoy the film. Watch the movie here.