Steve Martin Continues to Charm in ROXANNE [Blu Review]

The rom-com take on Cyrano De Bergerac still shines

After kickstarting his career with brilliant absurdist fare such as The Jerk, The Man with Two Brains, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Steve Martin later embraced sweeter, more family friendly roles with Housesitter, Parenthood, and Father of the Bride. One title that always seems to get overlooked when discussing his filmography is Roxanne, a film that not only indulges his whimsy, but shows off his acting and writing chops too, with Martin himself scripting a modern day retelling of Edmond Rostand’s 19th century French play Cyrano de Bergerac. While that premise may explain the lack of appreciation, the sheer charm and wit of Roxanne make it one of Martin’s best.


In the little resort town of Nelson, Washington, well-loved Fire Chief C.D. Bales (Steve Martin) is sensitive about his remarkably long nose. Beautiful, intelligent astronomer Roxanne (Daryl Hannah) arrives in town to study a comet and finds herself attracted to another newcomer, C.D.’s imported professional firefighter Chris (Rick Rossovich). Roxanne confides her interest to the secretly-smitten C.D., who reluctantly passes it on to Chris. But Chris is dumbstruck, and convinces C.D. to ghost-write a letter to Roxanne — one that, unbeknownst to Chris, is an outpouring of C.D.’s own feelings for her. Since it seems to both men that Roxanne wants, as Chris tells C.D., “a man that looks like me and talks like you,” the deception continues, until Roxanne has fallen in love with the author of the passionate letters, while C.D. remains certain that she could never love a remarkable face like his.

Cyrano de Bergerac tells of a man who, despite his talents as an artist and poet, believes a physical affliction (his large nose) is too much for the woman he loves, the titular Roxanne, to ever see past. Martin transplants the tale to the cozy ski town of Nelson, Washington in the late ‘80s, playing C.D. Bales, the local fire chief. An affable sort, Bales is loved by (nearly) everyone in town for his smarts, kindness, and humor. He also has a massive nose. When he falls for visiting astronomer Roxanne (a luminious Daryl Hannah), an unusual lack of faith in himself emerges, and when it becomes apparent she has interest in his fellow firefighter Chris (Rick Rossovich), C.D. valiantly works to help this sweet but dumb guy win her over.

It’s a delightful premise for a rom-com, and it avoids any mawkish sentiment thanks to a sparkling script from Martin. Roxanne falls in love with Bales’s mind, channeled through Chris’s body. He even manages to play plenty of homages to the original text by working in a fight between C.D. and some boozed up louts, mimicking a 19th century duel, while another highlight of the film sees him unleash a verbal barrage against a man who mocks his nose, his words cutting deeper than any blade could. Martin gave himself a dream role, turning in a more grounded, but still whimsical physical presence, and a stellar showcase for his sharp mind and tongue. Brains vs. brawn is a central theme, one ultimately tied to self-image. Roxanne is a genteel and affirming tale that speaks to all of us who have lacked confidence or allowed an element of our person to dictate our worth.

The Package

Nothing in the release purports this as a new transfer, so is likely just ported over from an earlier release. The image quality is still pretty good, with detail of a pleasing level and the colors being solidly represented throughout.

The Blu-ray sadly does not contain any extra features, but does come packaged with a new “retro VHS design” (see below) that Mill Creek are rolling out for a number of their re-releases.

The Bottom Line

Roxanne is one of Steve Martin’s more grounded comedies, but one that is certainly amongst his most charming. Exuding warmth and wit, it’s a delight from start to finish, and Mill Creek offers a great opportunity to revisit a delightful part of the star’s filmography.

Roxanne — Retro VHS edition is available on Blu-ray via Mill Creek from August 2019.

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