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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 4/28/00

L.A. Story
1991 (1998) - Live/Artisan

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

L.A. Story Film Rating: A-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C+/C+/B

Specs and Features

98 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, behind-the-scenes featurette, theatrical trailer, cast & crew bios, production notes, Easter egg interview clips, film-themed menu screens, scene access (36 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: Spanish and English, Closed Captioned

"You will know what to do when you unscramble 'How daddy is doing.'"

L.A. Story is wonderfully executed movie, with a charming script and magical moments. Harris K. Telemacher (Steve Martin) is a wacky TV weatherman in Los Angeles. Harris lives an ordinary life with his overly demanding and egotistical girlfriend Trudi (Marilu Henner), until a magical event occurs: a large electric billboard stops Harris on a stretch of highway and gives him a riddle to solve. This riddle starts Harris on an introspective journey to find the meaning of life and happiness. Along the way, Harris falls in love with quirky British journalist Sara (Victoria Tennant), and must help her overcome her romantic inhibitions to win her heart.

L.A. Story is not only a delicious romantic comedy, but it's also a scathing look into the sights, sounds, philosophies and citizens of Los Angeles. Steve Martin not only stars in this film, but also wrote the script, and he delivers a hodgepodge of characters and events that are L.A. in their most extreme form. Martin turns various local happenings (like earthquakes, ATM hold-ups and freeway shootings) into commentaries on life as usual in Los Angeles. The characters in the film are truly stereotypical caricatures of people in L.A., from air-headed beach bunnies (Sarah Jessica Parker), to snotty, self-important elite restaurant managers (Patrick Stewart).

One more item worth mentioning, is that the New Age musician Enya provides much of the score for the film. A great deal of the music is from her albums The Celts and Watermark. Her ethereal score lends a very effective emotional backdrop to the more romantic scenes, especially the climax of the film. If you're a fan of Enya, L.A. Story is worth a watch for that reason alone.

The 1.85:1 letterboxed picture on this DVD is disappointing. Sure, L.A. Story didn't break any box office records, but it sure deserves better treatment. The video presentation doesn't improve upon the previous laserdisc edition, as it's marred by a soft picture and analog noise. The colors seem to be fairly accurate, but fine picture detail is lacking. The Dolby Digital 2.0 surround soundtrack is only average, taking on a somewhat harsh quality at times. Dialog comes across very effectively, but the music is not presented as effectively as it could be - most of the score is stuck in the center channel, with clumsy distribution to the entire front soundstage. Rear channels are only occasionally used.

I was delighted to see some extras find their way to this DVD. I've been a fan of this film since I saw it theatrically in 1991, and I've wanted to learn more about its making. This disc contains a short featurette with plenty of interviews by the cast and crew, offering interesting insight into the film. There are also several hidden Easter eggs in the menus, that contain additional (and brief) interview snippets.

L.A. Story is an absolutely wonderful romantic comedy. Steve Martin is in top comedic form, and there are plenty of polite jabs at Los Angeles to keep you smiling. The picture and sound on this DVD could be better, but the supplements make it a worthwhile purchase for fans of the movie. Run out and buy this disc, and I'll meet you at L'Idiot for lunch.

Greg Suarez
[email protected]

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