Steve Martin's latest film parodies L.A.


Steve Martin loves being in love.

So comedy's foremost funnyman wrote "L.A. Story," starring himself and the woman he's crazy about -- his wife, Victoria Tennant.

"It's a love story set in L.A," Mr. Martin says by phone from Los Angeles. "I wrote it for her. [Besides], when there's down time making a movie, you have someone to spend time with in your trailer."

Known for his zany, physical antics and his urbane, sophisticated wit, Mr. Martin, 45, hopes the film will not only make audiences laugh but swoon.

"I'd like people to get in touch with the feeling of being in love, that romantic part of our lives where you get swept up, where you're exalted, where you feel you're going crazy and your heart's running wild."

Mr. Martin met Ms. Tennant when they appeared together in the 1984 comedy "All of Me."

"Steve's kind of humor is never cruel," Ms. Tennant has been quoted as saying. "It's always something that makes you rejoice in the silliness of life."

In "L.A. Story," Mr. Martin plays TV weather personality Harris K. Telemacher. "I was deeply unhappy," Telemacher says in a voice-over. "But I didn't know it because I was so happy all the time."

His agent is played by former San Jose, Calif., comic Kevin Pollak, who's secretly seeing Telemacher's girlfriend (Marilu Henner), a beautiful but shallow woman. Telemacher's job pays well, but it demeans him. And his social life is overflowing with fun-but-mindless L.A. pursuits.

In the midst of all the hipness is newly arrived Sara McDowel (Ms. Tennant), an English journalist writing about L.A. She's refreshingly un-hip. And Telemacher falls head over heels in love with her.

What we see through Sara's eyes is Los Angeles as a fantasyland, with wonderfully crazy natives who can be strangely charming. She sees an enchanting urban landscape, lush with palms and exotic flowers, a tropical haven of sunlight and the pursuit of happiness.

"It's an affectionate look at L.A.," Ms. Martin says. "Some people say it's a parody. It's really a little of both. L.A. is fabulous and not fabulous, depending on the day and your mood. It's so rich with different places that it can actually reflect your mood. In L.A., you can find solitude or you can find trouble.

"People think of L.A. as Hollywood, show business and sunny, so there's a magic to L.A. In the movie, we stretch that magic with the changing weather and with a freeway sign."

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