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L.A. Story (1991)

tomatometer

100

Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.

audience

75

liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 17,902

My Rating

Movie Info

Steve Martin wrote and stars in this look at the promise and dreamtime of Los Angeles culture. Martin stars as Harris K. Telemacher, a light-hearted television weatherman who does wacky comedy in lieu of reports since, being in L.A., he has very little weather to report. He spends his time roller-skating through museums and spending time with California's beautiful people. But Telemacher is fired and discovers that his girlfriend Trudi (Marilu Henner) is having an affair. He walks away from the

PG-13,

Comedy

Steve Martin

Mar 20, 2001

Live Home Video

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Cast

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All Critics (33) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (31) | Rotten (2) | DVD (10)

This is a very personal Martin project -- the sweet-souled, nonstop-funny testament of a native Angeleno. Sly and soulful, it's the comedy that dares to be dippy.

February 2, 2009 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Goofy and sweet, L.A. Story constitutes Steve Martin's satiric valentine to his hometown and a pretty funny comedy in the bargain.

September 2, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Steve Martin's script, a delightfully scatty account of life in the city of angels, exposes romance lurking beyond the snobbish restaurants and routine muggings...

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Like Mr. Martin himself, L.A. Story seems basically decent, intelligent and sweet. It's a fanciful romantic comedy whose wildest and craziest notion is that Los Angeles, for all of its eccentricities, is a great place to live.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

To borrow from Abe Lincoln: Steve Martin's L.A. Story will make all of the people laugh some of the time, some of the people laugh all of the time but not...well, you know the rest.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If the material had been presented more insistently, it might have been insufferable, too goopy and new-age. Its modesty, though, is its prime virtue. It's breezy and light as cloud's breath -- not so much airheaded as air-hearted.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Unlike Woody Allen's New York City, which becomes a staging area for character angst and transformation, Martin's L.A. stifles the characters, and neither they, screenwriter Martin or director Jackson seem to be aware of it.

February 2, 2009 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

A rather slight film, but there is enough charm and wit to make it a pleasant diversion.

February 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

It's witty, irreverent and entertaining, this love story penned by Steve Martin, in which LA is a tangible character.

May 5, 2007 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Perhaps Steve Martin's hair went white because his brain radiates with such boundless invention that all the pigment withered off the follicles.

February 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

If nothing else, it will remind you how funny Martin used to be.

September 22, 2005 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

enjoyable silly

February 7, 2005
Shadows on the Wall

A minor classic in the grand tradition of Woody Allen and is one of the best films Steve Martin has ever done.

March 23, 2003 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

A wonderfully sweet romance with a touch of romance and not a trace of cheese.

February 9, 2003
Needcoffee.com

Steve Martin's ode to la-la land is funny, endearing, and too close to reality for comfort.

January 22, 2003
Flipside Movie Emporium

This is the best kind of comedy, the kind in which there is truth behind the laughs.

September 10, 2002 Full Review Source: Montreal Film Journal
Montreal Film Journal

A humor-free comedy

September 7, 2002
Lawrence Journal-World

By letting someone else direct, Martin can concentrate on his performance. And his performance is fine in this slight but funny comedy.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: rec.arts.movies.reviews
rec.arts.movies.reviews

So funny that I could not control myself at times -- one belly laugh would not subside before another began.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Internet Reviews
Internet Reviews

Audience Reviews for L.A. Story

Early 90's yuppie pap!
September 29, 2009
SirPant

Super Reviewer

When I reviewed an earlier released Steve Martin film called The Man With Two Brains, I ended with the comment that I believed people should sit down with him and force him to watch his old comedies to bring back the funny Steve of days past. I'd like to add on to that by saying, alternatively, I'd be just as happy if he sat down and watched his dramas/comedy-dramas and returned to his deadpan style that gives him such charm (Steve, don't let people steer you wrong, I actually enjoyed the adaptation of your novella Shopgirl!)

Steve stars as weatherman Harris K. Telemacher (is it me or does Steve have a tendency to play characters with very unusual last names?), who's striving to find something meaningful in his life. His love life lacks passion, he's not appreciated at work (being told to be "more wacky, less egghead" with the weather reports) and his friends don't seem to be the type of people you'd want to spend a large amount of time with (I believe it was Jean-Paul Sartre who once said "Hell is being locked in a room with your friends". In that case, Harris' Hell would be more unsatisfying than most people's). That is until he meets Sara (Victoria Tennant, a pity she isn't more well known), a journalist from London.
Okay, the plot may not be the most original in the world but sometimes it's not the plot, it's how it is treated. The fact that Victoria was married to Steve at the time of the movie's production helps the credibility of how good the two are as romantic leads. There are no real disastrous dates, nothing farcical and both Harris and Sara are witty, intelligent people (and I applaud this movie for FINALLY delivering a male rival to the lead who's not a jerk.)

I've often made comments about using narration throughout a movie and how it can sometimes be detrimental but the use of it here works due to the fact that Harris is frustrated with the real lack of an outlet for his philosophical thoughts and witty remarks. It's not so much breaking the fourth wall, but it still works (as opposed to narration heard at the start in Elektra, which is just one sucky part of a sucky movie or the narrator in the brilliant Little Children, who just doesn't mesh with the movie).
During one of his narrative pieces, one of his lines stands out particularly and is one of the most amazing lines in the history of film/television. It goes "Why is it that we don't always recognize the moment when love begins but we always know when it ends?" So true. So very true.

The movie does have a slight fantasy slant with a signpost that sends personalized messages to Harris. Unusual, unexplained but undeniably workable. The signpost is almost a character in its own right and possibly the one other outlet for Harris to speak his mind and challenge him.

For those of you who like to play cameo games (like "Hey! It's that guy!"), this film offers a few good ones. Woody Harrelson is Harris' boss, Chevy Chase can be seen, and Rick Moranis gets one of the better ones by being an English gravedigger with a sense of humor. Harris then makes a Hamlet reference (he's a huge Shakespeare buff as his narration would show) and the scene itself is fun. Too bad Moranis hasn't done many other upbeat roles.

"More wacky, less egghead". That's what Harris is ordered to do in regards to his job. So amusing that the movie does the exact opposite. It's a smart romantic movie. It's able to deliver happiness with slight fantasy and still beat the pants off most romantic dramas/comedies. They're wacky (Kate Hudson films, I'm looking at you. I imagine The Ugly Truth has a big list of cliches to invoke too) and L.A. Story is egghead. Long live egghead nature.
August 7, 2009
Passenger1986
David S

Super Reviewer

this is a very. very funny film. steve martin is fantastic as the wacky weatherman while sarah jessica parker plays a great minor role.
August 2, 2009
TomBowler
Thomas Bowler

Super Reviewer

    1. Harris K. Telemacher: This is L.A. What's gonna change?
    – Submitted by Joakim A (6 months ago)
    1. Harris K. Telemacher: Is this the new cruelty?
    – Submitted by Carolyn D (14 months ago)
View all quotes (2)

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Foreign Titles

  • Los Angeles Story (FR)
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