is a romantic comedy starring (and written by) Steve Martin
. Harris K. Telemacher (Martin) is a weatherman in L.A. whose love life is assisted by a mysterious, magical talking freeway sign. The city of Los Angeles is a star as well, one of the themes of the movie being the often bizarre attributes of the city itself, from the weather to earthquakes to the "fake" citizenry. Marilu Henner, Victoria Tennant and a pre-Sex and the City
Sarah Jessica Parker play the love interests of Harris. The movie is peppered with humorous cameo appearances, from Patrick Stewart
's scene-stealing maître d'hôtel to Rick Moranis
' gravedigger. (And yes, that is Paula Abdul
as the rollerskater.)
- All Just a Dream: Heavily implied that the entire story is a fantasy inside the head of Harris, who has a PhD in Arts and Humanities - which explains the Shakespeare references - and which is also why the film is one huge Empathic Environment.
- Ambiguously Gay: Ariel, who at the very least has a close live in relationship with another woman.
- Arc Words: "The Weather Will Change Your Life. Twice."
- Bilingual Bonus. Plenty. "L'Idiot" is "The Idiot". "El Pollo del Mar" is "The Chicken of the Sea".
- Brass Balls: There's a great scene where Harris (Steve Martin) is walking on the beach with arrogant bastard Roland (Richard E. Grant), and there's this metallic clanging noise. Harris asks what it was and Roland says "It's a nuisance. It's my damn testicles."
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Sara is alarmed when there's a minor earthquake during dinner, but the locals just pick up their drinks to avoid spilling them and pay it no attention, not even missing a beat in their conversation.
- Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Harris is saddled with his girlfriend Trudi, until she admits to having an affair, which cues an immediate break-up and opens the door to pursuing a less problematic romance.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: All of Los Angeles, according to Roland.
- Deadpan Snarker: Harris. In spades.
- Dumb Blonde: SAnDeE*
- Everything's Louder With Bagpipes: The freeway sign plays "Amazing Grace" with electronic bagpipe sounds.
- Executive Meddling: In-universe, Harris' boss (Woody Harrelson), wants a "more wacky, less egghead" weathercaster. Keep in mind, Harris is already loopier than a roller coaster in his weather reports.
Boss: "You're doing some sort of intellectual thing".
Harris: "Intellectual? It may seem intellectual to you, because you were educated with with a banana and an inner tube! This is an intellectual-free zone!"
Boss: "More wacky, less egghead."
- Fake Brit: Rick Moranis puts on a British accent in his role as the gravedigger.
- Also, in-universe, Trudy accuses Sara of doing this... despite the fact that Sara is British!
Harris: "Oh right, like that big phony, Winston Churchill."
- French Cuisine Is Haughty: L.A. Story has a very snooty French restaurant called l'Idiot, where the lead has to show his bank balance and several other references even to get a reservation. Snooty character played to Large Ham perfection by Patrick Stewart.
"You can't have the duck. Do you think with a financial statement like this you can have the duck?"
- Give Me a Sign: Literally, the roadside sign that dispenses advice.
Sign: "Kiss Her, You Fool."
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Nathan Johnson falls for Aunt Lydia (who still has feelings for her ex-husband Dr. Jack Seward and her mother is Sir Bedevere The Wise), nearly cheats on her with Carrie Bradshaw, initially works for Tallahasee, is humiliated at a resturant by Matrie D' Jean-Luc Picard (who had just kicked out Pierce) and runs in on Seymour at his day job as a gravedigger. Plus, Dick Solomon and Sam Beckett were cut out of the film.
- Chevy Chase plays Carlo Christoper. "Is this part of the New Cruelty"?
- Sara's mother (appearing only as a voice over the phone) is apparently also Brian's mum.
- Is This a Joke??: Harris' initial reaction to the talking road sign.
"You think with a financial statement like this, you can have the duck? !"
- It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY: Inverted. Harris and his friends agree to meet at a trendy new restaurant whose name is pronounced "leed-YO", but when the scene shifts there, we see that it's actually spelled "L'Idiot", and that is the correct pronunciation in French.
- It Tastes Like Feet: When Ariel gives Harris the experimental beverage.
Harris: "It's exactly like licking a shag carpet."
- Left On The Cutting Room Floor: John Lithgow was going to be in the film, and some of his scenes appear in some trailers for it, but was eventually cut. He can still be seen as the man in the distance talking to the magical Road Sign before Harrison himself encounters the sign, but all of his dialogue is gone. The cut scenes are available on some dvd versions.
- Magic Realism: Many elements, but especially the highway sign.
- My Nayme Is: SAnDeE*
- Mysterious Middle Initial: Harris K. Telemacher
- Offscreen Crash: in one scene, a man in the background can be seen juggling a chainsaw, and we can hear that it's turned on. Seconds later, as the camera moves away leaving him out of shot, we hear the sound of a man screaming in pain.
- Pet Homosexual: Ariel, although it's pretty subtle.
- Random Passerby Advice: Sara remembers when this once happened to her.
Sara: I went roller skating once at the Brooklyn Rollerdome. It was awful. I was completely out of control. I went slamming into this 8-foot tall black guy in a green satin jump suit. I said, "I'm sorry, could you help me?" And he looked at me with stoned eyes and said: "Let your mind go and your body will follow."
- The Red Stapler: Fans were disappointed to find out those shoe-skates don't exist.
- Right Through the Wall: Harris and SAnDeE* end up in the hotel room next to Sara and Roland.
- Road Trip Across the Street
- "Shut Up" Kiss: Twice in a row.
- Something Else Also Rises: The fountain when Harris and Sara finally make love.
- Spell My Name with an S: SAnDeE*. Not Sandy, "Big S, big A, small N, big D, small E, big E and a star".
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: The art critique scene - see below.
- Wannabe Line: Harris has to go through The Fourth Reich Bank to get a reservation at the latest trendy restaurant.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Didactic??: The hilarious, rambling, erotic critique Harris gives about... a painting of a large, red rectangle.