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I remember the context of L.A. Story more than I did the events in it, which may be more of a testament to the filmography of its star more than anything. Steve Martin was a couple of years past Roxanne (which by the way still holds up a bunch of years later) and I guess the fates had lined up to where he could do another film with his wife Victoria Tennant after they'd done All of Me (which also holds up a bunch of years later) and I guess L.A. Story came of it. Or so I'll convince myself I guess.
Martin wrote the film that Mick Jackson (Temple Grandin), and stars as Harris, a TV weatherman looking for a little more meaning in life. At lunch he encounters Sara (Tennant), a journalist looking to write something about Los Angeles for an England publication. Harris is smitten with her and tries to leave his girlfriend Trudi (Marilu Henner, Taxi) while she figures out a way to get away from Roland (Richard E. Grant, Gosford Park). All the while, the backdrop of the City of Angels, the people in it and the quirks and eccentricities around it, is given numerous chances to shine and mug for laughs.
I've spent a little time here and there in L.A. but in no way do I qualify as some sort of expert, but many of the jokes in L.A. Story are nimble enough that when the general shrugging of shoulders happens and you here ‘that's L.A.!' in some manner or fashion, that it pulls off the feat so well is commendable. Some of the jokes have not aged *that well, like the freeway shooting for instance, but Martin is able to provide a fourth wall-denting monologue or two, showing the infatuation with the madness. And if you can't understand why Martin and Harris are in love with L.A. in a way that is shown, at the very least you can explain the love. Kind of like a Phish concert.
The ensemble does good work for the film, Martin and Tennant played well off one another well, and Henner and Grant provide solid turns in and out of the Angelino cult, if you will. There are a lot of guest stars in smaller roles who get their chance to steal a scene or two and most of them do, notably Sarah Jessica Parker as SanDeE*, the uniquely California girl. Others such as Patrick Stewart and Sam McMurray provide their own set of laughs and contribute to the California quirkiness. The film's primary story rises and falls with the Harris-Sara relationship, which is generally conventional despite a laugh or two. Any sort of transcendence is reserved for the area and supporting characters, and generally doesn't have the same sort of charm when used in comedic settings. It's just sort of there.
There are moments where L.A. Story is fun and funny, and I think within the scope of looking at things exclusively to L.A. may have been the way to go. But by including the common thread of conventional feelings (yes, love against Los Angeles is conventional) of love and relationships, sets the general momentum of the film off. Not disastrously, just one where things could have been great, but the film is just cute as a result.rnThe Blu-ray:
The 1.85:1 presentation of L.A. Story on Blu-ray is nice. It's been awhile since I've taken a gander at the film (maybe on its VHS release?) and was surprised at how natural things are; I was expecting blown-out white levels and desaturated colors in clothes and such, but things are quite natural, even on the beach sequences things look natural. Film grain is present through the feature without being pervasive, and the film's Blu-ray transfer is pleasant viewing.The Sound:
There are DTS-HD tracks in six and two-channel formats, both of which are fun. Dialogue sounds consistent throughout (I listened to the 5.1 track) while jet noises of the sunrise include channel panning and lunch sequences include ambient noise for an immersive experience.Extras:
"O2BINLA" (23:58) is where Jackson recalls how he came to the project, his ideas on casting and recall of some of the auditions, and how it was working with Martin. He gets into how he shot the film and thoughts on it. He recalls the cut shots from the film and shares impressions of it along with its legacy. It's a nice piece that could have been boosted by other recent interviews. As is the cast with "The Story of L.A. Story" (12:34), where producer David Melnick talks about the cast and Martin, along with the guest stars. This is a mix of footage with him and from the film's EPK, which is also included (5:40). "The LA of L.A. Story" (15:33) is a commentary of sorts from production designed Lawrence Miller on the various locations in the film. 18 deleted/extended scenes are next (20:51), including a marvelous sequence with John Lithgow and a subplot with Scott Bakula which are maybe too clever for the room but are funny regardless. Two trailers (3:06) and eight TV spots (4:14) close things out with the digital copy.Final Thoughts:
Compared to the other parts of the Steve Martin romcom trilogy, L.A. Story is the weakest of the two. Even in a vacuum, Story is one where you watch it, smile and on occasion laugh, and then generally forget about it. Kind of like L.A. itself I guess, but I digress. Technically, the film looks and sounds good, while the extras are fun (albeit portovers), so if you double dip, it's essentially for the 1080p, and the film doesn't merit enough for that, even at a presumably lower price bar. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't at least.