Adapted and updated from the classic story of Cyrano de Bergerac, released in 1987 and directed by Fred Schepisi, this little romantic comedy is set in a little town in the Pacific Northwest called Nelson, Steve Martin (who also wrote it) stars as a man named Charlie, whom everyone calls “C.D.”. He’s the chief of the local Fire Department. C.D. has a comically long nose that sticks out like Pinocchio. A running gag in the film is that, despite appearing to be a rather mild-mannered and generally a happy fellow, he will quickly turn violent if you make fun of his nose. In the opening scene of the movie, he does just that, as he’s out walking on the street when two drunk guys (played by Kevin Nealon and Ritch Shydner) start laughing at him, and C.D. beats both of them up with a tennis racket.
C.D.’s other problem is that his Fire Department is filled with some rather incompetent members (including a funny trio played by Damon Wayans, Michael J. Pollard, and comedian Jeff Ross), who can barely rescue a cat out of a tree without messing everything up. So C.D. pesters the mayor (Fred Willard) about getting more help, and the mayor agrees to hire a professional firefighter from out of town to come in and help C.D. train the others and get them into shape.
Soon, Roxanne (played by Daryl Hannah) moves into town. C.D. meets her when she needs his help after she accidentally locked herself out of her house (while naked!). C.D. helps her get back in, and they have a nice chat. She’s an astronomer, in town for a while to study a new comet. C.D. seems instantly smitten with her, but makes no effort to tell her. And then Chris (Rick Rossovich) moves into town, he’s the new firefighter that the mayor hired. He’s a big handsome guy, who is inexplicably shy around women. He and Hannah make eye contact in a bar, and there’s an instant attraction, but he’s too shy to make a move, and just leaves. The next time he sees her, in a restaurant, he tries to psyche himself up to get the courage to talk to her, but instead ends up climbing out the bathroom window.
Finally, Roxanne talks to C.D. and tells him that she’s interested in Chris (which disappoints C.D., who thought she was going to say that she’s interested in him), and asks him to tell Chris that. So C.D. does, but Chris doesn’t know what to say and asks C.D. to help him write a letter to her. So C.D. writes a letter for him, and Roxanne and Chris arrange to meet. But Chris is still panicking about what to say to her when they meet in person, so they set up scheme where would wear an earplug while C.D. sat in a car outside, speaking into a microphone, telling Chris what to say. This goes hilariously wrong when the earplug stops working, and Chris has to try to speak for himself, but stumbles badly (he compares her breasts to pillows and then asks “Can I fluff your pillows?”), but then C.D. manages to save the situation by shouting from a bush, while Roxanne is in her house (so she thinks it’s Chris speaking) and wins her over with his words. Roxanne invites Chris in to have sex, while C.D. goes home.
The charade continues, as Roxanne leaves for a week for an Astronomy convention, during which time C.D. mails her a letter every single day, pretending it’s from Chris. By the time Roxanne comes back, she is deeply in love with the man she thinks Chris is, which not only frustrates C.D., but also Chris who realizes that he can’t live up to the standard of Roxanne’s image of him, and just wants to be with a girl that he can really be himself with.
There are two major climaxes to this film, there’s Roxanne’s reaction when she finds out the truth about Chris and C.D., and there’s the Fire Department being tested when a major fire breaks out in the city, and they have to put it out. I won’t spoil how either story ends, but I highly recommend that you buy it yourself, to find out. This is a very nice movie, the casting is perfect. While Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah carry most of the movie in their roles, I have to single out Rick Rossovich for his portrayal of Chris. He could have easily been played as a big dumb jock, but Rossivich manages to give him a likable quality, that you can understand both why Roxanne was attracted to him, and why C.D. was willing to help him out. There’s also a great performance from Shelley Duvall, who plays C.D.’s cousin Dixie. Overall, it’s an enjoyable film and fun way to spend a couple of hours.
Roxanne is available on Amazon
Thanks for your review because I vaguely remember watching this film.
A very funny and charming film.