As a reworking of Edmond Rostand’s play Cyrano de Bergerac, the only reason to see the film is for a few bits of inspired nonsense by Steve Martin as the nosey lover. Written by Martin to suit his special talent for sight gags, this Cyrano, called CB here, is just a wild and crazy guy with a big nose and a gift for gab.
The central plot device of the play, in which a true love writes letters to help another suitor with the same woman he doesn’t love as much, is here adapted to a small ski community in Washington State where Martin is fire chief.
The film is barely underway when Roxanne (Daryl Hannah) is out of her clothes and locked out of her house. When CB comes to the rescue it’s love at first sight, but his enlarged proboscis disqualifies him as a serious suitor, or so he thinks.
Instead, Roxanne turns her attentions to Chris (Rick Rossovich), a new recruit on the fire department who is all but rendered dumb in front of women. Eventually, Roxanne learns Rossovich is only after her body and realizes Martin loves her truly.
Aussie director Fred Schepisi, who has elsewhere handled much rougher material, does a professional job of creating a breezy atmosphere, but in the end it’s hopelessly sappy stuff.