Roxanne (Earn more sessions by sleeving!)

June 20, 2011 at 11:01 pm (Movies) (, , , , , , )

I’ve been listening, off and on, to a podcast called The Popcorn Dialogues: two writers of romantic comedies (novels) who decided to do a review of movies in their category across the decades to try to learn from them, what works in storytelling and characterization and dialogue and what doesn’t. What makes a good rom com, and can a novelist (or two) learn from the good and the bad and the
ugly of film? It’s a great idea, and the two ladies are charismatic and (usually) fun to listen to (not so much when they’ve had a little extra wine or when they repeat their conclusions for the 83rd time in a 45-minute podcast – which two things often go hand in hand). (I may have to crib off the idea of the podcast: what can I take away from a movie in terms of storytelling – maybe it’ll make me review more films.)

I only listen off and on because I have seen remarkably few of the movies they’re talking about. It isn’t as though they choose obscure little films – all of the original movies are considered classic rom-coms, and most of them are pretty big. I just don’t get out much. Or something.

One I did see long long ago, and not since, was Roxanne. I listened to the podcast for it, and they adored it (except for Darryl Hannah), and that made me want to see it again, immediately. I bumped it up the Netflix queue, and watched it over the weekend.

The ladies were right, as was my memory of having loved it forever ago: it’s wonderful.

The cast, aside from being a proverbial blast from the past, was excellent:

– Rick Rossovich as Chris is (to quote Frasier) “Cute but stupid”: a truly nice, and truly adorable, boy with no self-confidence. The only story-telling flaw I can think of in this was that it might have been nice to know why he’s so phobic; was he a late bloomer, and still getting used to being a hottie?

– Shelley Duvall as Dixie was perfect, warm and strong. She’s the kind of friend everyone needs.

– Fred Willard as Mayor Deebs – Fred Willard!! Enough said.

– Michael J. Pollard as Andy was just adorable. And his history in Star Trek (“Miri”): bonus. I’m a fan.

– Damon Wayans as Jerry – wow. I forgot he was in it. And I never noticed him. Not what you expect from Damon Wayans.

– Shandra Beri as Sandy – one of those actresses who was in everything in the 80’s, from commercials up, and whose name I never knew. She was beautiful and really quite good – great chemistry with Chris/Rick Rossovich; why didn’t she become a household name?

– Blanche Rubin as Sophie, Jane Campbell as Dottie, and Jean Sincere as Nina – three of the elderly ladies who provide lovely grace notes throughout.

– Daryl Hannah as Roxanne … Hannah was hot right then, still riding the (pardon the pun) wave from, among other biggies, Splash. And she was fine; I loved what she did with the last scene. The PD ladies weren’t enamored of her; they didn’t feel she quite filled the role of beautiful geek. And while adding glasses to her boho look didn’t quite cut it as indicator that she’s smart, she did a nice job in the role – she had several good moments, and none that were outright bad.

– Steve Martin as C. D. Bales. All hail Steve Martin. I love Charlie – I’m in love with Charlie – and considering Steve Martin wrote Charlie (wrote the screenplay), I’m a fathom or two deep for him as well. He’s sheer joy to watch; he’s completely unafraid to make an utter fool of himself. He is bloody brilliant. And Steve Martin’s fantastic too.

I’m not as intimate with the details of Cyrano de Bergerac as I could be (he was real???) (and he wrote science fiction – in 1662! “Cyrano travels to the moon using rockets powered by firecrackers and meets the inhabitants. The moon-men have four legs, musical voices, and firearms that shoot game and cook it” – wow), but I love the use of what I do know. “C.D.” for Cyrano de; Chris for Christian de Neuvillette; a firehouse instead of a corps of the French army (still a brotherhood). From what I’m reading it follows the story faithfully
(except for the ending) – and does it with joy.

In terms of storytelling, there was one scene that was to me a gorgeous little model of efficiency.

We see Roxanne seeing Chris in a bookstore
Chris: Hey, did that copy of ‘Being and Nothingness,’ by Jean…
Clerk: Jean-Paul Sartre? Yes, it did. I got it right here! It’s all paid for.
Chris: Great! Okay, thanks a lot.
Clerk: De rien. Il n’y a pas de quoi.
Chris: All right, okay…
Clerk: It ain’t nothing, bro!
Chris (reading as he goes back out on sidewalk): “… Therefore my body is a conscious structure of my consciousness…”
Andy: Yeah. Thanks, Chris. I was too embarrassed to go in there and ask for it myself.
Chris: A little light reading, huh, Andy?

In nine lines, 77 words, here’s what we get from that scene:

– – Roxanne takes away the impression that Chris is a reader; I’m not sure whether she overheard what he was picking up, but even if not – well, he’s only been in town a few days and he’s already in the bookstore? This is a definite plus in a man.
– – Andy is more than just the sweet and kind of dim guy he appears to be, but not very confident in being more – which might be why his appearance is deceiving
– – Chris not only doesn’t speak French, he doesn’t know Jean-Paul Sartre from Jean-Luc Picard, and a bookstore is actually very much not his natural habitat. And he does not speak French.
– – While Chris is sweet and kind of dim, he’s also a very nice guy, willing to do a favor for someone he’s only worked with a couple of days, and refraining from teasing him as some of the other firefighters probably would have. He seems a little impressed at the end – as he should be.

Bravo.

The movie was written by Martin, which makes me very happy. It’s beautiful.

C.D. Bales: I really admire your shoes.
Drunk #1: What?
C.D. Bales: I love your shoes.
Drunk #2: What do ya mean?
C.D. Bales: And I was just thinking: as much as I really admire your shoes, and as much as I’d love to have a pair just like them, I really wouldn’t want to be IN your shoes at this particular time and place.

The firehouse scenes (Operation Snowball!) were sweet; the old ladies were wonderful (I can’t do the alien sound effect); taxidermy-man (“All Things Dead”) was perfectly creepity; it was just grand.  The story ran a beautiful course to a satisfying ending (happily not the original).  It won’t be as long again until I watch Roxanne again – that was just too much fun.

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2 Comments

  1. DISCONNECT said,

    I stumbled upon this post when I was self-absorbedly searching for my own “Earn More Sessions by Sleeving” post, and I’m glad I did. It’s always nice to come across another fan of this movie. Reading your post has made me want to pop in my own copy of the DVD.

    “He’s got the whole world in his nose.”

    • stewartry said,

      I’d forgotten how much I love that movie. Reading your comment makes _me_ want to watch it again right now.

      Because I was afraid of worms, Roxanne! Worms!

      Thanks for the comment!

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