Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Problem with Steve Martin

Let me begin by saying that I love Steve Martin. I remember clearly the first time I saw him do stand-up on the Tonight Show. I was in high school and he was a revolutionary. I love his stand up material. He is creative, original and unafraid.

I love his writing. His essays from the New Yorker, his short stories, his novellas and plays, even (especially) his recent memoir, Born Standing Up, have been exceedingly funny and entertaining to me. His humor, particularly his broad public persona, belie an intellect that is witty and sharp.

I always loved his appearances on Saturday Night Live. (It hasn't always been SNL.) And, I have to admit that I really like his movies. Some of the funniest, sweetest movies of the last 25 years have featured Steve Martin.

But here is my problem. Too often he plays the same character. Compare the parts he plays in Father of the Bride, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Cheaper by the Dozen and you will see that his character's name changes, his career is different, but he is essentially the same.

Steve Martin is too good to give us the same thing over and over again. We saw him in Shop Girl, Mixed Nuts and Leap of Faith. We know that he can amaze us with his words and his acting. I miss that and I am ready to be amazed again.

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