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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Roxanne (1987)



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This modern update of the classic French play Cyrano de Bergerac is more than a showcase of Steve Martin's comic talents, it's a finely crafted reworking of timeless tale of a man struggling to overcome his fears and win the heart of his true love. In this case, Martin's character (C. D. Bates, renamed from Cyrano in the play) has an enormous nose. The endless ridicule it must have invited for him made him both sensitive and hardened to it. Perhaps the greatest moment in the film is when Bates upstages one man's insult by spouting off twenty more. Not only is the scene hilariously funny, but every insult that Bates rattles through makes the reality of the situation increasingly tragic. How many of those insults were made up on his own, and how many had he heard directed at him by others over the years? As confident and witty as he is on the outside, Bates is terrified of courting the woman he loves -- but he manages to do the next best thing, emotionally, by supplying the words from his own heart to another, considerably less eloquent, suitor. Unfortunately, what makes sense emotionally doesn't always make sense logically, and therein lies the predicament Bates soon finds himself in. Unlike many modern updates of classic stories, this one works and works well. It's also one of the few modern comedies whose seriousness and poignance augments, rather than compromises, its humor. This is a very funny film, and a perfect date movie to boot.

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