L.a. Story

Once again Steve Martin seems trapped in an uneasy compromise between the free-form goofiness of his early features (The Jerk, The Man With Two Brains) and a more conventional romantic picture with a coherent story line. This 1991 comedy, which he wrote, starts out very promisingly as a funny southern California counterpart to Woody Allen’s Manhattan, but when the characters and plot are supposed to take over from the regional satireMartin plays an inept TV weatherman who falls in love with a British journalist (Victoria Tennant in the Diane Keaton part)they never really come to life. There are still plenty of laughs and some inventiveness along the waySarah Jessica Parker is very funny as a young, blissed-out clerk Martin becomes involved with, and there’s some nice business with an oracular freeway signalthough some of the gags and contrived plot moves stumble over their own cuteness. With Richard E. Grant and Marilu Henner; Mick Jackson directed. 95 min. (JR)

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