Steve Martin's retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac turns out to be an enjoyable romantic comedy. That one sentence expresses both the features and flaws of the film. Steve Martin is good in his role as C.D. Bales, playing it with the appropriate flair of Cyrano. But, because I know the story of the play, many aspects where the script deviated bothered me:
- The movie is more comedic than the play. While this could have been fine, much of this comedy came in the form of slapstick humor from the troop of incompetent firemen who Bales leads. I don't appreciate this type of humor much and also felt it besmirched Cyrano's aura. After all, he led a perfectly respectable military troop. Still, both the play and this movie have some features of humor that I did enjoy.
- The movie had the typical American ending, omitting from the play the death, the nunnery, and the years of silence. As such, it lacked the deep tragic nature of the play and any themes about honor and memory. Still, while I can complain about this significant difference, I can appreciate Roxanne as light fare and as a movie that's great for a date.
- C.D. Bales isn't as sharp as Cyrano. Cyrano's an eloquent renaissance man. While Bales is at times good with words, at other times he's inexpressive or not that bright. (How many objects are in the universe/sky? "More than fifty.") Martin's Bales is clearly intended to be more identifiable to the average American than Cyrano. (Bales doesn't, for instance, fight off fifty people in an alley.)
Incidentally, the costumes (e.g., hair), setting, and especially the opening credits have a very 80s feel. However, I quickly ceased noticing.