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L.A. Story, Steve Martin’s absurdist comedy-romance of life and love in La-La Land, is a genial mess — generally shapeless, mostly senseless, but happily strapless. ”I was deeply unhappy but I didn’t know it, because I was happy all the time,” explains wacky TV weatherman Harris K. Telemacher (Martin), who’s urged by a talking freeway sign to change his life. He sets off to seek the modern Holy Grail — the perfect relationship — and pursues it with British journalist Victoria Tennant (Martin’s real-life wife).

There are inspired satirical moments (a shoot-out on the freeway, a mind-numbing Beverly Hills brunch) and a few wonderful sequences with a delightfully airheaded date (Sarah Jessica Parker). But the bulk of the jokes topple with a thud, and the happy-ever-after conclusion isn’t worthy of Martin’s fertile mind. Let’s just hope L.A. Story is the first draft of a brilliant comedy coming to the video stores sometime in the future. C+

L.A. Story
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