'Roxanne': THR's 1987 Review

Roxanne (1987) - Still -Photofest-H 2017
Columbia Pictures/Photofest
A refreshing summertime romance-comedy blend.

On June 19, 1987, the comedy Roxanne hit theaters. Steve Martin, who also wrote this adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, starred as a big-hearted, and big-nosed fire chief who falls in love with a beautiful astronomer. The Hollywood Reporter's original review is below.

Columbia has a comedy with a one-word title that’s going to be a summer hit. The box-office curve on Roxanne will be markedly upward, just like Steve Martin’s nose in this nimble reworking of Cyrano de Bergerac.

Light and likable, with hearts unabashedly all over its sleeves, Roxanne is a winning romantic comedy whose appeal should cross age barriers and backgrounds — giving it an across-the-board promise.

In this wonderfully tilted romancer, Martin stars as a kind-spirited fire chief in a ski community. He’s daffily happy and well adjusted, skipping its high-incline streets like a goody Astaire. He’s smart and funny, but he’s got this nose that could be the ski town’s steepest run. Humor is defense, and he’s got the self-deprecation jokes down pat. Rhinoplasty is just a dirty word to him and nose-job not a viable course. As in literary tradition and real life, a willowy blonde (Daryl Hannah) changes his thoughts, shapes his course. In the high call of duty, Martin rescues the unclad Hannah one evening when she’s locked out of her house — he’s immediately smitten.

Hannah plays a somewhat obtuse outsider, a grad student doing astronomical research, hoping to discover a comet. But in the meantime, she charts the local guys and finds them less than stellar — they’re just a bunch of hapless volunteer firemen. One, however, is tall and silent (Rick Rossovich), and she’s intrigued. In short, it’s the old unrequited love triangle with Martin and his beak stuck squarely in the middle.

Of the three, Martin’s character is by far the most appealing. Astronomer Hannah has slightly less than the standard fill of poetry and romance in her, and Rossovich’s character is unbelievably buffoonish. Nevertheless, they are charming and vulnerable, and we care about them. Once again, Hannah proves she’s just as appealing in roles requiring shoes as in those that don’t, and Rossovich plays his straight-man role with solid charm. Most happily, screenwriter Martin gives soft-shoe Martin plenty of amiable ground to work on.

In short, Roxanne is so winning because the central character is so engaging. The just-right silly script is sweet but not saccharine — it’s a refreshing summertime romance-comedy blend.

Backdropping the central triangle is some pleasant nonsense, as well. The antics of the volunteer firemen are marvelously slanted and ineptly zany, not surprising since Michael J. Pollard is their leader — it’s a treat to see Pollard again. Director Fred Schepisi’s comic eye is also telling, giving Roxanne just the right visual incline and lift.

Technical credits are similarly smart and unassuming: Jack De Govia’s production design and Kimberly Richardson’s sets take a gentle poke at upscale ski resortery, while Bruce Smeaton’s music is zesty and airy. — Duane Byrge, first published on June 17, 1987

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