Why did I pick this movie? It’s a highly-regarded Steve Martin movie that I haven’t seen. Really, that’s all it takes for me. Steve Martin is one of my favorite entertainers. I have no explanation for why I’ve never seen this movie; I just, well, haven’t.
What do I know about this movie? Steve Martin plays a weatherman. He might or might not be wacky. He has a funny coffee order. Freeway signs talk to him. I don’t know if he talks back. I think it’s a love story but I’m not sure. If any of this is in the trailer, I’m not aware of it, because I haven’t even watched the trailer.
What do I think will happen? Steve Martin is more than “a wild and crazy guy” even though, by this point in his career, people had begun to understand he’s actually one of Hollywood’s more intellectual celebrities. His sense of humor bows to no one’s so I am expecting him to thoroughly send up the City of Angels as it existed in 1991.
And that’s what I’m afraid of. I’m deeply worried that this movie won’t seem funny to me because I’m going to be watching it 29 years too late.
But if it really does have a significant love-story aspect to it, then I think it’ll be fine. I have probably seen more Steve Martin movies than I have of any other actor not named Tom Hanks. Of the ones I’ve seen, by far my favorite is Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. He’s just great in it; no one does the “person who has finally had just about enough of this” like Steve Martin. But for me one of the best moments in that movie comes near the end, when his character finally realizes that John Candy’s character is nothing more than a desperately lonely and sad man who is trying to hold it together but can’t quite overcome his awkwardness long enough to make a real connection with anyone. Martin showed great depth in that scene. It’s really hard to imagine him as a romantic lead but I’m prepared to be surprised because he can do depth very well.
You know what’s amazing? I have seen the movies that bookended this one for Martin: Father of the Bride (excellent), Housesitter (bad), and the most intriguing one of the bunch, 1993’s Leap of Faith. That one was a serious movie about religious faith that was somehow, inexplicably, marketed as a wacky Steve Martin comedy. Maybe the advertising team thought he looked just as ridiculous done up like a sleazy evangelist as I thought he did and decided no one would ever believe it was meant to be taken seriously. I would imagine Martin was attracted to that movie because of the deep questions it asks about belief — like I said, he’s a legitimate intellectual. But he was really miscast in Leap of Faith. It needed someone who wasn’t known as a stand-up comic.
I’ve seen all those movies, but never L.A. Story. So I’m really looking forward to it.
Check back on Sunday (I think) for my review.