Steve Martin apparently worked on the script for L.A. STORY for seven years before he and director Mick Jackson brought this romantic fantasy comedy to the big screen in 1991. Martin plays Harris K. Telemacher, a depressed weather presenter, trapped in an unfulfilling relationship with his socialite girlfriend and disheartened by the superficiality of the Los Angeles scene. After being dumped by his girlfriend and receiving cryptic relationship advice from a freeway sign he begins to fall for Sara, an English journalist - from London of course - writing an article about Los Angeles for the London Times. With that relationship complicated by Sara's pledge to reconcile with her ex-husband (Richard E Grant), Telemacher begins dating SanDeE* (Sarah Jessica Parker), a ditzy clothing store assistant and only an improbable weather based emergency will ensure the smooth running of the course of true love.
Witty and full of eccentricity, time has not been kind to some of the romantic elements of the story but the sharp, fast-paced comedy still remains entertaining and amusing.
Sidey: Is there a thematic link to anything this week down? Is it an LA vibe that we're going for?
Dan: No, not particularly, but it might come out that way after all. But when I chose this film, it was based on almost just one. Little skit of the one part of the, the film. And it's when they come out to get robbed out the bank and he just goes in there and he has, and he's always just stayed in my mind that it made me laugh and it's been a long
Reegs: be your Robert
Dan: Yeah, that's it. Oh,
Reegs: and he just hands over his cards. Yeah. I've got that joke on here. It's a good one.
Dan: and yeah. And it just tickled me at the time and it'd been a, a time since I'd seen it actually LA's
Sidey: that scene takes place in the movie LA story.
Dan: He does.
Sidey: is what we have watched for the purpose of this chat.
Dan: And it was my choice.
Steve Martin he's, he's one of those actors I've seen him in.
Decent films have seen some absolute rubbish where it hasn't worked. Not all of his humor
Reegs: well We saw him recently, ish Dan in dead men don't wear,
and we were rebuked on our website for accidentally mentioning Edith head as being. Editor, but she was in fact, the costume
She was the costume designer,
Reegs: which we got it right in the program. It was just in the notes. Whent it? We were just talking, nobody reads the notes anyway.
So it doesn't really matter.
Sidey: Was it, or did we say it? I don't know, in any case I'm sorry that we made such a catastrophic error. And if you don't enjoy the free entertainment that we do as a hobby but out there for your enjoyment, you can, of course always fuck off.
Reegs: Yeah. Yeah. There is always that option too.
Sidey: Sometimes we make mistakes because we are strictly amateur. Yeah. And the whole point of the show is about watching stuff and catching up with stuff that we don't know anything about. And we missed. So yeah, there you go. There's always that, but I do, I, I feel energized and thrive upon anytime that we get like a bad review or someone like picks a fight with us, it's just good.
Dan: Yeah. It means they felt something. Yeah. That's what we're all about. And well the opening moments of LA's story are kind of just a, a chaotic. Musical dance with trees with cars, bashing into each other and people picking up imperfect sequence, their, the newspaper it's selling the American
Reegs: dream suburbia choreograph, isn't it?
Sidey: would it be a Buzzby Berkeley kind of yeah.
Vibe going on there sort of vibe. Yeah. Yeah.
Dan: it's. Yeah, it is kind of just a bizarre offbeat.
Reegs: It's a French version of somewhere under the sea
right? Yeah. Duh, duh. Yeah, that's
Reegs: right. Mm-hmm there's a businessman wearing a gas mask. For some reason, beautiful bodies, fast cars, a hot dog hanging from a helicopter,
Dan: four cars that wave each other on and then all crash in the middle.
Reegs: And then we get the narration from Steve Martin and he says, my name is Harris K telemarketer. And he says he lives in LA
Sidey: I thought the name cracked me up straight away. He does has great names in his characters. Doesn't he
Reegs: he's had seven heart attacks.
Dan: Yeah. Although he's, and he he's, he's desperately unhappy, which you can't really tell because he's so happy.
He's he's lives in
Reegs: well, he's telling, he says he's gonna tell a story about what happened to him and it sets up this thing because it is a sort of fantasy comedy, romantic
Sidey: he's on an exercise, like a static bike in a, in an exercise area solely solely for exercise bikes, someone's having a heart attack or something just in the background when he's talking thought it was quite
Dan: Yeah. And he he's kind of is love MIS adventures in it. He's, he's kind of with three different, very different women in the film. He's got the woman that he's currently seeing.
Reegs: Yeah. She's a sort of socialite. She stop girlfriend. Yeah. She, they, they live
Sidey: his whole crowd is like that.
Dan: Yeah. Yeah. That, that whole crowd.
And then he's got Sarah, Jessica Parker who comes in is like the, the clothes clerk and she's all and
Reegs: yeah. Yeah. That's capital S a N capital D. Is it, hang on. I've got it down here. E capital E star.
that's it. And she's like half his age.
Dan: Oh, well, I mean, there's some brilliant lines.
My, one of my favorites in this is like when he is having the argument with the eventual kind of love that he finds this Journalist who's come over from the times or something the London times. And she's doing a story about what it's like in LA, so they eventually meet, but all these girls are kind of within his life and in and out.
Yeah, one, one of the lines when she says Talking about how old he goes. How old is she? Anyway, she'll be 27 in four
Reegs: four years. Yeah.
Dan: she's not too old for me, but
Sidey: well, the three women, if you can have three polar opposites. Yeah. That's what they would be because is originally, was current girlfriend that he's seeing at the beginning. I think she's sort of a personal shopper. Is that right? Mm-hmm
Goes on about all these people, these well known people that she deals with.
And, oh, I got them X, Y, Z. You know, everyone's supposed to be sort of super impressed by her and you can tell he's really unfulfilled and doesn't
Reegs: Yeah, well, they have, they have this hilarious lunch where there it's really superficial and they all go out and there's, there's a, an earthquake halfway
Reegs: but they just carry on the conversation.
Dan: Everything's just, yeah, just, just shaking. I love a espresso, double espresso. I'll
Reegs: I'll have a TWI mine with the twist lemon. I'll have a twisted lemon. I'll have a twist. I'll have a yeah, so it's all chasing
Sidey: and she arrives at that meal. Didn't she? The Sarah that's his wife in real life at the time? Yes. Yeah.
Reegs: Victoria tenant. Okay. Not related to David,
Sidey: No. Or stellar?
Sidey: And she, she arrives at the table and they're all very pro and proper and, and quite snooty. And they mentioned jet lag and she says, yeah, it was all I need was a good drink and a fuck. Yeah. and they're.
Sidey: what you can't say that, you know, that's not, that's not the dumb thing, you know, and she says she's got a, a different social standing.
She's very down to earth,
Dan: which he is a wacky.
that's his job. He found it quite funny. Didn't he smiled. And he's tried to catch your eye a couple of times over the, the meal.
Reegs: He's embarrassed though, by his job, he, he was an intellectual of sorts. He's got a PhD in humanities and arts or something, I think they mentioned.
And you know, he, he feels his job is a little bit undignified or he FA he's starting to phone it in a lot.
Dan: Yeah, quite good though. His, his news weather report. So I thought there were Made
Sidey: well, he's got a wacky
waste coat on and he just throws the things at the screen to say what the weather is.
It's almost like the far show. Yeah. Scoo. Yeah, it's not. So his current relationship today is just not fulfilling him. His job is getting him down. He's in a, he's in a love. I did enjoy his commute to work.
When it was hunting season,
Dan: it O open season, first day of spring, the open season LA freeway. And they do this in a film.
So he gets out gun and he just starts shooting the, the car next to him or the Laurie next to him. Who's shooting back at him and it's open season LA and it's, what's clever. This film is. There's serious parts in it. You know, it's not all wacky, but they were just throw in something like that, which is clearly not true.
Reegs: well, just some bizarre flight of fancy or some eccentricity or
Dan: taking a joke too far and, and hammering it all up and everything. But it works for me in this film. I think um
Reegs: there are a lot of jokes and social observations that are happening all the time. It's like the pace of the dialogue is, is right up there. And, you know, there's always a joke that if you didn't like this one, there's another one coming up. So yeah.
Sidey: well he ends up, he meets Sarah, Michelle. Oh,
Dan: Sarah, Jessica
Reegs: Jessica Barker.
Sidey: I was getting confused
Reegs: She's like leaping around him. Like she's about
Sidey: yeah. He goes to buy a pair of slacks and she's measuring him.
And she does that in his inside leg by crawling on the floor, on between his legs and running the tape and look like punching him in the bollocks,
Dan: One of those,
Reegs: like the beginning of a porn scene or
Sidey: something Yeah
Reegs: he's like, yeah.
And he's in his white linen and
Sidey: She's just a whirlwind of. And he's just like, wow, what is going on?
And he's like, I'll pick him up, pick him up Wednesday when he does go back. It's just shutting. And they have a, a thing where she's standing out in the rain. It's quite bizarre. Her she's, she's in a sort of open relationship, but the other guy.
Seemed like a psychopath. And they go out for dinner and he's just watching them from across the, yeah.
So there ears over there.
Sidey: So that's starting to kick off and he's also been stepping out with Sarah.
Reegs: Yeah, but not before though. His car breaks down on the freeway on a, on a drive home with his girlfriend.
And he starts talking as he's looking under the hood. He starts talking narrating about two important events in his life that are magical, that cannot be explained scientifically. One of which is about to happen. And as he's looking under the hood of the car, the freeway sign behind it, what do we call this?
Because I look this up today. This is a variable message system.
Dan: just a massive sign next to.
Reegs: It flashes up higher at him and he looks away and you know, and it fixes, it pops up and he says higher again. And he like says what me. And then it says, are you okay? And I guess, test text speak.
Hadn't been invented because they have this whole exchange about where he's trying to decode what the,
Sidey: he reads it out rock or something.
Reegs: Rua Coke.
Dan: No. Are you okay?
Reegs: Eventually the sign wants a hug. And when he says, who are you? She says, I'm a signpost. And even though he thinks he's being filmed, he looks around, you know, where's the setup.
He does it. Anyway. He goes and squeezes, the concrete column gives it a big hug and the sign says it felt good and it wants to help him.
Dan: him. Yeah. And the, that the weather I dunno whether it's this time or
Reegs: another, well, this is where she gives him the riddle. She says, you will know what to do when you unscramble, how daddy is doing.
Sidey: Which to me was like
Reegs: instantly obvious what, what it was. Yeah. Yeah. But it takes har quite a while. In fact, it's not even him and he tells his wife about it and she just kind of says, okay. And they move on, but this was what I'd really remembered about this movie was him talking to the sign. Right. Okay.
Yeah. That made a big impression on me.
Dan: And, and so he takes this sign as a sign
Sidey: well, which he
Dan: Yeah, which he would and I always.
Steve Martin wrote this, didn't he? And he,
Sidey: yeah. And over a long, a long time.
Dan: Yeah. You can see that there's warmth in it throughout, you know, I think that it is been a laborer love for him and the character, his character.
He is just likable he's he's, you know, he's somebody that, for the most part, even with the eighties twist on it, which, you know, you get a little bit close to the bone sometimes on, on some things. But,
Reegs: yeah, some, some parts of the love parts have dated a bit badly, but you can probably get into that. But,
Dan: but yeah, for, for the most part, I I've, you know, he then goes on doesn't he he's he
Sidey: well, he likes to roller skate isn't he?
Dan: well, he finds out.
Yeah. He finds out about the other girl though, having an affair.
Sidey: Well, your mates in.
Reegs: E grant.
like, Roland yeah.
Dan: So he's, Sarah's the, the British girl, he's her ex-husband and she's promised a weekend away
Sidey: is super pompous and pretentious in
Dan: Yeah, well, he is just, you know, perfect. Richard E grunt isn't he he's just turned up and been himself in.
As far as the English gen, he can play it
only thing I can think of him now is a gag that they do towards the end. Whereas he's walking off his balls, clang like their metallic bells. just think of that every time he is on the screen. Yeah, so he's in it as well.
And she feels under pressure to kind of get back together. Sarah feels under pressure to kind of get back together with Roland.
Sidey: Well, he, he begs her effectively for one chance, one, one weekend away to see if there's anything still there, if they can rekindle something.
And so she kind of goes with that, but she's been shown the town as it were by Steve Martin and they they've, they've got a real
Yeah. She's thinking of him and he's gone off for a weekend with Sarah, Jessica Parker, after he is found out his agent was having an affair with his girlfriend and he, he kind of just goes, how could you, how could your shoes gets out the house? He's like, I love it. Yes. I'm free. I'm free. So. He's he's happy to get out that relationship.
He goes to the house, doesn't he? And, and he is like, oh, I don't really feel like it. Like, I've told this I'm there's someone else I've met. I really like her. I feel a bit bit weird if I went away with you and she's like, oh, well, I really like the ghost still. We don't have to do anything. We, we don't have to make love.
We can just fuck.
says yeah, we can just have sex. She said, yeah. Okay. straight away. Just like, all right.
Dan: and and the boyfriends there, just in the windows, they kinda wave. As they go in the car and they end up at the same hotel. Yeah. As he's taken
Reegs: El POEO Delmar,
Sidey: Yeah. Chicken of
Reegs: chicken in the sea
Sidey: which is the tuna isn't it's the tuna brand. And
Reegs: just the same hotel, Dan, but next door each other.
So both couples Sarah and Roland and Harris. Sarah Jessica Parker, Sandy star. Yeah. And they're both banging away and it shows you in pencil drawings who they're thinking about. I love this guy. And Harris is thinking about Sarah and Sandy, Sandy's thinking about Mel Gibson, I think.
And Sarah is thinking of Harris and Roland is also thinking of Mel Gibson.
Sidey: Yeah. A friend of your people. So yeah. There's that going on? And. They've each been listening at the war. They're like, listen, next door is having sex.
And they're sort of giggling and laughing. And then the next morning, or is it dinnertime? They, they all,
Reegs: well, they go out into the hall, don't they? And Harris and they Harris and Sarah see each other and they realize what's been happening and they go off for this frosty walk. That's when his balls twang with the metal.
Sidey: Well, they, they said, well, we're going out. We're going to. The dining room, you we're going to the restaurant for dinner, you know, and RO says, we should get, we should, you know, get Paul table together. Well, well he's going there. Oh no. It's like, that'd be weird if we're in there two separate tables
Dan: yeah. Obviously they don't know they've got a stronger connection and they they're all feeling a little bit weird. Well, those two are feeling a bit weird because. They go for a walk on the beach afterwards, don't they? And they, they get chance to have a, a quick conversation while Sarah Jess Parker Sandy's Fring in the waves, he's gone back there to get a jumper and they try and kind of iron, a few things out,
Reegs: Well, mostly he tries, he basically kind of begs her to stay and he says, he'd use the full force of weather.
Yeah. Storms and shit to prevent her. If I had the power yeah. To, to stop her, you know, but she says, this is everything. She didn't want pain, lies and complications
Dan: ordinarily, I don't like to be around interesting people because it means I have to be interesting too.
Are you saying I'm interesting. All I'm saying is when I'm around you, I find myself showing off, which is an idiots version of being interesting. And there's tons of lines through this that I think it must have just, you know,
Reegs: well later she uses that against him. Doesn't she? Cuz she says, oh, you know, you use that as basically just a defense mechanism and all that stuff. So there's quite a lot of good relationship, deep relationship things going on as well.
Dan: And, but she still leaves. She still goes, she, she needs to get back.
Reegs: She leaves everyone. She leaves rolling. She leaves Harris.
Dan: Yeah. And she's, she's decided on the plane, that's what she's gonna do, but then the, the weather rolls in
Sidey: a dozen
Dan: and and she only goes to one place which is back to tele Mark's place.
He's waiting out in the rain for her. Yeah.
Reegs: And the sort of happy ending. So, but there's loads of cool bits that we haven't talked about.
Sidey: There's millions of cameos.
Reegs: millions of cameos. Yeah. Rick Morans is in, there is a
Sidey: a grave. A Cockney grave Digger.
Yeah. Yeah. His accent was really
Reegs: What's his jobs was
Sidey: Luke Picard is in there.
Reegs: Yeah, he's really good.
Sidey: the snooty ma D
Reegs: that's amazing that scene where he's trying to get into this restaurant late yacht. And the guy's asking him questions. Like, when do you want to? He says, can I have a table on Friday? And he just laughs at him, Saturday just continues laughing
Dan: down the bank manager
Reegs: Then he starts. Then he starts like talking.
Yeah. What's your economic status? He's like ask you, what did, do you rent or own? Yeah, it's loads of bizarre flights of fancy like that when he has his car done, it turns into like a formula one.
Reegs: Pit stop. Very inventive.
Dan: He, he, he, when he is showing her around LA he's going, some of these buildings are over 20 years old.
Sidey: they have quite a lot of Shakespeare references in here.
Reegs: Loads. Yeah.
Sidey: Yeah. And art, there's lots of art. Gallery stuff, cuz he's a huge collector
Dan: Yeah. I'm surprised he
Dan: get his banjo out or something. Cuz he's pretty good
Sidey: he would, because this was what year was this So he would've been
No, I would imagine he's always played the U UK clothing, but his skills are fucking tip top these days.
Sidey: Probably would've would've been a bit Weird in this movie, if he just brought out his banjo
Reegs: out little connection to, so I married an ax murderer cuz in this he's part-time he does a kind of bizarre performance art thing where he roller skates through art galleries.
Yeah. Yeah. And they have a discussion about, oh, you should do it at the Guggenheim. He's like, yeah, I know way he'd say that he's got circular floors and
lot of Ranson, whatever. But yeah, this was good Gwinette.
Dan: you when was the last time you watched this
Reegs: while ago? A while ago? I didn't remember it all that.
Well some of the. Because he sort of. What forces himself upon her, but he's quite aggressive with her. And it looked like, yeah, he's, you know, the sort of kiss against her will, but she'll like it in the end kind of trope. And that doesn't, you don't see that played out very often anymore. And no, like, you know, dissonant, nineties values,
Dan: But it, it never felt kind of overly sexual in that kind of way that
Reegs: it, well, I dunno, I think the whole thing's really pervy really, cuz he's constantly banging chicks that are like
Reegs: age or.
Sidey: this is the first time I'd seen it. And I thought it was only okay. There, there is some really great lines. There was one line. I just can't think of what it was now, but I was pissing myself laughing and you just get these little aside the thing with the bank robber, you know, I'm. Dave, I'll be your bank robber today. I'll be robbing you there. And he just hands over stuff. And there's loads of little, like, witty, like great little one liners, but this, the love interest story, I just didn't really care for it. Yeah. I'm not,
Reegs: it's hard to get in invested in it. It's like, oh, I've got the choice of these three, like great.
Sidey: Well the first one
Dan: I mean, one, one was gonna, you know, one was clearly you know, a bitch.
She was, she needed to go. The
young one too young. I mean, she was just, you know,
Sidey: yeah. See that relationship there is, is kind of like borderline, cuz she's dead young. She's a fucking like retail assistant. Do you know what I mean?
Dan: Yeah. And, but all the end and it's just how, you know, a man can
Reegs: he gets an
Dan: away off, off. He gets, you know, gets all that kind of crazy stuff done.
And really, he ends up connecting with that. Sarah, who's obviously closer to his own age. They look a nice couple together and that's kind of kicks off. So
Sidey: I, I did, it really did struggle to keep my attention through.
I've reached my phone quite a few times. I just,
Dan: was it an hour and a half long?
Sidey: Yeah. Oh, I got quite distracted with it and I didn't really connect with the whole plot, but there were just some like nice Steve Martin moments. And this is probably, I don't know what. Point probably later in the nineties, when he really started to just fall off a clear phone.
And I think I've read an article where he, he categorically admitted that he was only working to fund like more art. Yeah. You know, and you think of like cheaper by the dozen
Reegs: This isn't like that
Sidey: no, this is better. This is better than
Reegs: so many clever,
Sidey: and he'd worked
Reegs: like you said. And he worked on it a long
Reegs: years. I think it took him to,
Sidey: to it's almost like they crammed in too much stuff. Like you didn't need the.
The love triangle. I dunno if it necessarily had to be like that
Reegs: like Harris and Sarah and all of the girl characters and they're all like really thinly
Sidey: They're pretty one dimensional, dimensional.
Reegs: Yeah. So,
Dan: well, I, it does have flaws. There's, there's no doubt about it, but for me there, there is something kind of heartfelt and you know, substantial and, and, and something.
think if you like Steve Martin, there's still good. Steve Martin stuff here,
Dan: he's some of his best stuff. I think, you know,
Sidey: I dunno if I go that far
Dan: put into here. Oh, some of it, some of the lines
Sidey: were some really good line. There were some good one liners, good ones. This is like pre nose dive. This is definitely some good stuff, but the it's just the stuff around him is just not that great
Reegs: director. Mick Jackson did volcano and the bodyguard so interesting. Yeah.
Dan: Okay. Well it's still one. That'll probably go to revisit sometime in the future. It might be a while again, but I enjoy.
Sidey: Good. I'm glad you did.