L.A. Story (1991)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy, Sophisticated Comedy, Urban Comedy  |   Release Date - Feb 8, 1991 (USA)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Karl Williams

It's ironic that comedian, writer, and actor Steve Martin became best known for a brand of goofy, zany, physical humor replete with spoofs of low-I.Q. simpletons. Since the late '80s, he's been busily creating stage two of his career marked by the classy, erudite, intellectual, and satirical where before he was base, broad, and low-brow. The original Martin was a lot of fun with an arrow through his head or dressed like King Tut, but his later work is his best stuff. It includes Roxanne (1987), A Simple Twist of Fate (1994), Bowfinger (2000), his plays and essay collections, and supporting roles in high-class fare such as Grand Canyon (1991), The Spanish Prisoner (1997), and Joe Gould's Secret (2000). This comedy, which skewers the airy, weightless culture of Los Angeles with wicked, fiendish glee, while at the same time joyfully embracing such elements as New Age music and the city's meteorological perfection, is one such example of Martin's "stage two" best. Whether he's skating through the L.A. County Museum of Art or sending up the town's insatiable taste for customized coffee (pre-Starbucks, no less), Martin's perception is keen, his poisoned pen sharp, and his sense of the sublimely ridiculous acute as ever. If a handful of elements in L.A. Story (1991) are dated (freeway shootings, for one example), it's only because his has transformed into a keenly observed, timely comedy. Richly rewarding and enormous fun, it's one of a great artist's best films.