Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"L.A. Story" (1991) - Movie Review

A pride does not need a reason for characteristic when the judgment is by majority. The rudest people, the craziest traffic and the vanity of the city as such becomes a part to be proud of, insane it might sound. But the proud is not the behaviour rather their survival into it and becoming a person they could be fine with and around. It varies but Harris K. Telemacher (Steve Martin) fits the character. He hates the city of Los Angeles but does the randomness as a clockwork. Nothing remiss in the life he leads. It just is devoid of actual sensitivity in the little tiny place called soul.

There is this melodramatic, soap operatic and formulaic love story in Steve Martin’s screenplay and there is also the satire born out of the love for the city which becomes the character he anticipated. Nothing is normal in this city. For a date the young girl (Sarah Jessica Parker) Harris meets takes him to a place where they provide enema services. Liberating and frees the mind, she says. When people go beyond to be out of normal and the city does it together, there is nothing more monotonous than that. In a desperate attempt to differentiate themselves, they become the stereotype. Such is this young girl who needs a commonly given name Sandi to be spelled as SanDae*. Yes there is a star in the end.

Harris is a weatherman. Funnily the most easiest conversation starter with a stranger is the most boring part in the television programs. Still it is an unspoken mandate to have those and the nature of LA makes the man to be this jumpy and high wired presenter. He ends his report with a tidbit of Mercedes price fluctuations and uninterrupted car telephone service updates. His current girl friend Trudi (Marilu Henner) is an obligation to the community he lives in and she does the obligation herself by sleeping with the agent (Kevin Pollak). Harris is consumed by this nerve wracking style of existence and he meets the English lady, Sara (Victoria Tennant).

The film is full of parody, spoof and the satire we can compare to any city life. Along with director Mick Jackson, Steve Martin tries hard to sway away from the romantic comedy genre but it is tough. He breaks the chain and in the small moments of true love, he inserts sudden wackiness. And the people of LA are oblivious about it. That is the comedic element. Without that it would be a regular comedy much predictable but that extended indifference to the situation is the niche this film targets on and of course get its darn right.

Beyond the arrogance I hold up against romantic comedies, the map direction this couple takes to find out is detective curiosity knowing who the killer is. The film goes for the unusualness the city has to bear with. The ride is set as early as Harris steps out of his house and into the car. He takes the deadliest routes (but may be safer than the regular highway of the city) and gets to the destination promptly. He talks about the ambition of his classy news presentation to turn down walking in a parade and does the flamboyant, over the top weatherman. This set up is very important for the film because it should not be in the middle. That is part of the reason we do not mind when the sign post begins to communicate to Harris through its screen wordings.

“L.A. Story” provides a perspective of being a city person and viewing the skewed society he/she lives in. The residents knows the strangeness of their chores but the survival chances are possible adhering to it. The gain is the access to the best places many cannot even fathom. Unfairness is gloating itself and wearing fluorescent pink outfit in this town.

Steve Martin especially is loving in the role of Harris. He is the jerk but a jerk we like. He is the citizen thinking that he is leading a mundane life in this place of glamour and phony. What he does not know is that the next person is thinking the same. Both do not have the drive to push forward and expect a miracle to get something impromptu in their life. I believe the frustration of that unknown miracle is the signpost crying out aloud to move out of the cars and walk outside.


Howard Roark said...

Loved this article and thought you would appreciate it as well....


Ashok said...

I did read it. I understand his agony on "Amateur" writers calling as writers but why so much anger :-)? I am sure he is great in what he does and while I appreciate his effort, it might discourage some of the people who are beginning to write. Interesting read for sure.