Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Mimsy Review: L.A. Story

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, May 28, 1999

Let your mind go, and your body will follow.

Special features

Cameo Guide3
Cast Information4
Making Of8

Steve Martin and Victoria Tennant star in this story about quoting Shakespeare in a magical Los Angeles. Recommended only for dreamers and lovers. The DVD has the most involved menu I’ve yet seen on DVD. You can watch it in with English or Spanish subtitles.

DirectorMick Jackson
WriterSteve Martin
Movie Rating8
Transfer Quality9
Overall Rating7
  • Letterbox

The interviews on this DVD are somewhat interesting; not great; and they are hidden behind what are listed on the keep case as “Easter Eggs” but are really just bad interface design. If I could rant for a moment about Easter Eggs: Easter Eggs do not hide useful information. Easter Eggs happen when programmers realize that they have (a) a certain amount of memory left over that they can fool around with, and/or (b) a certain amount of time left over that they can fool around with, or (c) a burning desire to leave their name hidden in the software. You cannot have an Easter Egg that was planned from the start and that everyone knows about.

The menus themselves look like someone with too many fonts on their Mac Plus. As for choosing scenes, I still haven’t figured out whether I like it or not. Most DVDs, when you choose scenes, show a still from that scene to remind you what it is. L.A. Story shows a clip from the scene. With four or five choices per screen, that’s four or five clips all playing at the same time in tiny windows (shaped like sunglasses). I guess that’s just another touch of L.A. Beyond that, however, the menus are actually mostly well designed technically: the default choice is usually what you want. The choices are “merely” visually confusing.

The saving grace, of course, is that you don’t buy this DVD for the interface, you buy it for the great movie. This is a great movie! It is eminently re-watchable. Steve Martin has matured into one of the best actors of our time, from “All of Me” and “Roxanne” to “Leap of Faith” and “L.A. Story”. (He is also the writer for “Roxanne” and “L.A. Story”.) It could also be that he’s in so many movies that some of them by default have to be good...

The movie: Harris Telemacher (Steve Martin) is a weatherman in Los Angeles. Did you even know they have them? Weathermen have to pretend to be interesting because they don’t have to do the weather. “Sunny” will pretty much get you through most southern California days, and “no rain” will get you through the rest. Things have been livened up a little recently by adding smog forecasts to the mix. He also adds sunspot reports (for those using cell phones) and wind reports (for those using artificial hair).

In the midst of his depressingly happy life, he meets the woman of his dreams, and Los Angeles itself puts the two of them on a track to get together, albeit through a short cut via a “younger woman” on roller blades. (Harris, showing his age, is much more comfortable on roller skates in the art museum.)

This is a very fun movie, very literate—it quotes Shakespeare extensively long before it was cool to be Shakespeare—and especially funny if you’ve ever lived in Los Angeles. Los Angelenos have their own quirks, and L.A. Story exagerrates them. But it only exagerrates them a little, because they’re already just a bit unbelievable. From the opening dance sequence to the tune of “La Mer”, to the earthquake during lunch (“I’ll give it a four”), through the roller skating performance art and up to the final scene overlooking Los Angeles, this is a beautifully crafted movie that I can watch over and over again.

Recommendation: Purchase

DirectorMick Jackson
WriterSteve Martin
ActorsSteve Martin, Victoria Tennant
Spoken languageEnglish
SubtitlesEnglish, Spanish
Special FeaturesCameo Guide, Cast Information, Interviews, Making Of, Trailer
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