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L.A. Story Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    The film is astonishing in the amount of material it contains. It isn't thin or superficial; there is an abundance of observation and invention here.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    Victoria Tennant's iciness has been well-utilized on screen occasionally, but not this time. [8 Feb 1991, p.D4]

  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    The trouble is, nothing about this couple is particularly rooted in Los Angeles. The love affair has a bland, generic feel. What's more, the picture lacks verve.

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  • 80

    out of 100


    Goofy and sweet, L.A. Story constitutes Steve Martin's satiric valentine to his hometown and a pretty funny comedy in the bargain.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The New York Times Vincent Canby

    Basically decent, intelligent and sweet. It's a fanciful romantic comedy whose wildest and craziest notion is that Los Angeles, for all of its eccentricities, is a great place to live.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 13+

Sweet and quirky, but only L.A. kids will get the joke.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this offbeat comedy is not just a love story, but also a tribute to Los Angeles. Steve Martin’s goofy antics and witty dialogue will keep teens entertained, but the early-'90s humor feels a little dated, and the L.A. in-jokes might be lost on teens unfamiliar with Los Angeles lore. The characters navigate the complexities of casual sex and meaningful relationships in a whimsical yet loving manner that older kids and teens will understand. There's also some profanity, fantasy violence, and a brief shot of a topless woman.

  • Families can talk about how to make choices that are best for you, not someone else.
  • What qualities are most important in a romantic relationship?
  • What makes your town or city special to you? How is where you live different from Los Angeles, or other places you’ve read about or visited?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Teens might enjoy the depiction of Los Angeles as a place where there are no rules, and where adults can always redefine themselves. But they’ll also take away the message that sometimes the easy pleasures in life aren’t always the most satisfying: Harris finds happiness not from a superficial social life or a casual sexual relationship, but from finding a true companion.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Harris is a fun-loving, good person who’s willing to chuckle at life’s absurdities, and even revel in them. By the movie’s end, he’s also learned to strive for what will truly make him happy, not just keep him entertained. Sara is a strong female character who doesn’t bow to convention; she’s quirky and odd, and makes no apologies for it. Many supportive characters are frivolous or superficial, but mostly well-intentioned.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Some fantasy violence and arguing. “Road rage” is played for laughs when everyone on the freeway pulls out a gun and starts shooting, though no one is harmed. There’s some verbal abuse and shoving during a workplace argument.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Sex is addressed in a lighthearted way, and as a positive part of adult relationships. One character is cheating on her boyfriend, another couple has an open relationship. Three sex scenes with very little shown contrast casual sex vs. making love; some passionate kissing, comic sex noises, a hand on a clothed breast, and post-sex bed scenes. The only nudity is a very brief shot of a topless woman in a dressing room.

  • language false3

    Language: The word “f--k” and "s--t" are both used once.

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: American Airlines gets a brief logo shot.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Adults are shown drinking responsibly at social engagements. One minor character nurses a hangover after overindulging the night before.