I note with some amusement that in the midst of quoting Siskel and Ebert somewhat lavishly calling Roxanne (1987) a “comic masterpiece,” someone forgot to mention either Cyrano de Bergerac or its author, Edmond Rostand, on the DVD case. I guess not crediting the source material doesn’t matter much, since Steve Martin wrote the screenplay and Martinized it pretty well. On the plus side, I will say that the film manages the not-inconsiderable feat of making Martin—possibly the least inherently sympathetic of all screen comics—reasonably sympathetic. That it does so by loading the story with a good deal more sap—and a lot less wit—than the original material offers is another matter. In the end, it’s a harmless little entertainment.
One’s overall response to the film will depend a great deal on one’s taste for the 1980s. From the moment that Bruce Smeaton’s score kicks in over the opening credits, you know exactly where you are in terms of pop culture. It’s up to you if you cringe or find nostalgic reverie in the matter. The other major factor is going to be how funny you find Martin. His is a brand of humor that tends to escape me, so I’m not the best judge of how well he fares here, though it’s certainly light years ahead of his Pink Panther outings of more recent times. As a result, I’d call it reasonably successful, but I can’t get excited about it.