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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"It's like someone is throwing marshmallows at me"

After days of waiting for it to be checked in, Danielle and I rented the screen adaptation of Steve Martin's novel Shopgirl last night. And like everything Steve Martin, I am in love.

Danielle was hooked within the first two minutes, as Claire Danes' character has a cat that will not get out from under bed, similar to Danielle's own cat. I was hooked once her and Jason Schwartzman were having sex and said cat finally comes out from under the bed only to swat at his boy parts which prompted Jason to say the line quoted in the title above.

Steve Martin once again sets his story in L.A. Shopgirl reminded me of L.A. Story, in the way it was written and presented, but without the absurdity and social commentary of the earlier film. It followed the life of Mirabelle (Danes), trying to make her way in L.A. as an artist, while working at the glove counter of Saks. She's lonely, depressed, and desperately seeking someone to share her life with. She first meets Jeremy (Schwartzman), who did a great job as a young guy, completely ineffectual at dating, wooing, or even talking to women he is attracted to, and they go out on what has to be the worst first date ever. (Apparently, Jimmy Fallon was originally cast in this role, but I think Jason did a much better job than Jimmy could have.)

She then receives a gift of gloves on her doorstep that she sold to a customer at Saks (Martin) that he returned to her with a request for dinner. Thus begins their awkward dating and relationship that takes up the majority of the film.

Steve plays Ray Porter, a very wealthy divorcee. I had heard that this was the role he never wanted to play, but the studio would not produce this film without him. You can almost feel his reluctance to play this part come through in his acting. While the character is supposed to be emotional unavailable, it still feels that they had to drag him through his scenes and almost force him to look at Claire Danes' naked butt.

Despite his lackluster performance, I still think that as the author, he brought an understanding to the role that others could not have. His narrations throughout the movie really brought things together well.

I'm often amazed that the man that started his career with stand-up involving a fake arrow through his head, and was the genius behind The Jerk, can also successfully create such interesting and thought provoking films as this and great plays as Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

Not that every thing he does is gold, but for every Sgt. Bilko, there are at least five Three Amigos, Roxanne, or My Blue Heaven's. Looking back at his career, it is not often that he gets to play a completely serious role, and that is a bigger shame than Bowfinger's box office numbers.

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