Fred Schepisi’s Roxanne is a film that, at first glance, may seem too contrived and too formulaic to differentiate itself from the standard rom-com genre. But it gives the viewer something that a lot of comedies seem to lack nowadays, and that is a strong heart. While it derives its story loosely from Edmond Rostand’s play, Cyrano de Bergerac, Roxanne is still able to carve its own path and leaves the viewer with a warm, happy feeling all over. It’s a great reminder that comedies don’t need to be crude to be funny, and romance films don’t need to crank the schmaltz factor up so high.
Steve Martin, who also wrote the screenplay, plays C.D. Bales, the fire chief for the small town of Nelson, Washington. He is well-known and loved by practically everyone. But there is one giant flaw about C.D. that is quite noticeable; he has a rather large nose. It’s larger than anyone has ever seen, and the local frat boy or drunkard who isn’t too familiar with C.D.’s big heart immediately mocks him for his looks. This doesn’t faze C.D., as one great scene in a bar has him going through 20 different ways of mocking his nose. But there is one thing that the man with a heart bigger than his nostrils can’t overcome: how to approach the woman whom he finds the most attractive in the whole town - an astronomer known as Roxanne (Daryl Hannah).
Along comes the town’s new hunky firefighter Chris (Rick Rossovich), a man who has the great looks but can’t string together a sentence to win over someone unless it’s secretly relayed to him. And this exact scene happens when C.D. places an earpiece in Chris’ ear, so he can read off sweet, meaningful words as a way to win over Roxanne. Of course, none of these words are actually what Chris has written; they were all penned by C.D., and actually express his feelings for Roxanne, not Chris’s.
It’s just one of the many hilarious scenes in Roxanne, a film that not only has clever wit but also terrific performances by those involved. Martin is absolutely charming as C.D., who may be able to stand up to a lot of people who mock him for his nose. But he can’t quite get over the fear he has of someone being able to accept him for who he is. Hannah is a delight as the town’s newcomer who came more for a great view of the night sky than for romance. And while she’s immediately turned on by Chris for his looks, it’s his crude comments that turn her off. The letters he has written may be charming to her, but when he opens his mouth, they don’t echo what he has supposedly penned in letter format.
The new Blu-ray release for Roxanne from Mill Creek Entertainment doesn't come with any special features, aside from the option for closed captioning. But those who have been a fan of the company’s Retro VHS Look series will be thrilled that that new slipcover is an exact replica of the film’s VHS cover with the rating on the front and everything.
The picture quality isn’t exactly high definition, but it is a widescreen format with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It is a solid transfer with only a few noticeable scenes containing graininess. The audio track is a DTS 5.1 Master track and captures every great line of dialogue quite well. There may have been a few scenes that came across softer than others, but they weren’t too noticeable.
Roxanne may have a predictable outcome, but it’s the cleverly written screenplay and winning performances that are able to make it feel fresh and timeless. It’s a film that not only has great humor, but it also has a tremendous amount of charm, too. This is one that is certainly worthy of numerous rewatches.