Steve Martin has a nose for comedy
"Roxanne" is a movie adaptation of Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac a play which has made its way on to the big screen as well as small screen quite a few times since it was written in 1890. But "Roxanne" is a Hollywood adaptation, a comedy one at that, and as such whilst the underlying storyline of a man who loves from afar due to his over sized nose is the main theme the original story is changed to fit into the idealistic happy notions which audiences want to watch rather than something slightly more emotional and tragic. Despite this manipulation "Roxanne" is a glorious movie which manages to blend sweet with funny in a thoroughly entertaining manner.
Charlie (Steve Martin - Three Amigos) the fire chief in a small town finds himself falling for the beautiful Roxanne (Daryl Hannah - Splash) who is renting a house in the small town for the summer. But Charlie, who has an extravagantly large nose, feels that Roxanne won't share his feelings. Matters are made worse when a new hunky fireman Chris (Rick Rossovich - Top Gun) shows up in town and falls for Roxanne, except he becomes incompetent around women and so talks Charlie into helping him woo her with love letters and romantic words.
Whilst "Roxanne" does base itself on Cyrano de Bergerac the overwhelming feel you get from it is that it is a comedy, a Steve Martin one at that which features him on fine form as the central character of C.D. 'Charlie' Bales. Right from the opening scenes, the sort of homage to classic sword fighting where Charlie takes on two men in the streets with the aid of a tennis racket is pure comedy as are many of the scenes which switch the classic tale into an all out comedy, in particular the famous scene in the bush where he pretends to be his young companion is a delight of verbal comedy.
But it is not just the switching of the classic story into an all out comedy which makes you laugh but it is the fact that Steve Martin is brilliant through out. When someone makes fun of his large nose in the bar he responds with 20 jokes about his nose in a self depreciating put down, Martin literally is on fire creating an energetic performance which is captivatingly funny. Even the smallest of moments, his trials and tribulations of dealing with an incompetent bunch of reserve firemen delivers plenty of laughs.
Aside from all the comedy and there is a whole stream of it running through almost every scene, there is also that side to "Roxanne" which delivers that sweet, tender emotion although I would never say it truly becomes romantic. In a strange way in some of the scenes where Steve Martin struggles with his large nose you do get a strange sense of how it makes him feel, that due to what he calls a disfigurement, and the huge prosthetic nose is a comedy disfigurement, he feels like he will never be able to find true love. Plus some of the clever dialogue, the romantic quotes and letters do deliver that sweet emotion which the story demands. Although whilst there are these romantic elements it never really becomes a romantic movie because it is set as a comedy.
As already mentioned Steve Martin is on fine form from the verbal jokes through to his rubber face and exaggerated arm movements, every ounce of his performance delivers the laughs to perfection. Which is quite a good job because whilst Darryl Hannah does her best to be charmingly loveable as Roxanne and Rick Rossovich is okay as the superficial and handsome Chris neither manage to deliver a performance which gets close to being as good as that of Martin's.
Aside from the main stars there is a case of recognizable faces playing supporting roles such as Shelley Duvall, Fred Willard, Damon Wayans and the always entertaining and hugely quirky Michael J. Pollard as Andy.
What this all boils down to is that "Roxanne" is a fun version of the classic Cyrano de Bergerac which delivers the essence of the story but has been altered to fit in to what Hollywood expected audiences to want. Steve Martin is on fine form through out, making fun of his huge nose when ever possible and showing how good he can be with the right material.