The Movie: L.A. Story, 1991 (screenwriter: Steve Martin; Mick Jackson, director)
Who says it: Victoria Tennant as Sara McDowel, a British journalist visiting Los Angeles; Steve Martin as Harris K. Telemacher, a local TV weatherman; an electronic highway billboard.
The context: Sara says it first, repeating something a rollerskater told her; the highway billboard says it just before Harris kisses Sara for the first time.
How to use it: Any time you’re overthinking the situation. For me, this is most of the time.
L. A. Story is my favorite movie about Los Angeles, and probably my favorite Steve Martin movie as well. (Top five movies about L.A.: Chinatown, Grand Canyon, L.A. Story, Singing in the Rain, and Sunset Boulevard. Do not harass me with pleas for Swingers, L.A. Confidential, or The Player; all good movies, but not in my top five.)
Anyway, I love L. A. Story because it captures the process of falling in love – with a person, with a city – better than any movie I can think of. It’s all about that moment of surprise, when you look at the person or the place and think, “You are not what I expected at all.” Suddenly all kinds of possibilities present themselves, and you can’t think of anything you’d rather do than spend the rest of your life exploring them.
My own belief is that almost any person or place is capable of surprising you like that. It’s probably why I’m not married. It’s certainly part of why I’m moving, to look for new surprises.