Sunday, September 5, 2010

#179 Broadcast News (1987)


Director: James L. Brooks

Cast: Holly Hunter, Albert Brooks, William Hurt, Robert Prosky, Lois Chiles, Joan Cusack, Jack Nicholson, Peter Hackes

Holly Hunter plays Jane Craig, a network news producer who throws her whole life into her job--a woman whose neurosis is her greatest and worst asset. The two men in her life are two news anchors-- one is her best friend, Aaron (Brooks), who is both experienced and talented. The other is a handsome, showy newcomer, Tom (Hurt), who both infuriates and romantically intrigues Jane.

The three of them mixed together in one workplace equals a hectic, high-stress environment, and Jane struggles to deal with the pressure of juggling the two relationships. On one hand, her relationship with Tom frees her from the stressful, highly ethical and tightly-wound life she has created for herself, but on the other hand, he also represents everything she has hated and fought against. Jane cares about honesty, accuracy, and relevance with the news above all else (even her social life), and Tom believes to get farther in the business, you just gotta dress it up a bit.

Where those two clash, conversely, Jane and Aaron meet on level ground--both are dedicated to the same causes and have shared a long working relationship with one another. Aaron being in love Jane complicates the love triangle, and as he warns her against Tom-- is he doing it because he's looking out for her, or is he doing it because he's jealous?

The love triangle was a bit typical, the events were a bit predictable, and the high-stress workplace seemed overdone and fake. I thought Holly Hunter's character felt way over the top-- Ok, Ok, we get it. She's good at her job. She's neurotic. I don't necessarily think the error was entirely in the acting either. It seems like every intense moment was over-written and over-emphasized. It's not that I don't appreciate movies that present things very plain and simple when the characters' personalities call for that method of showcasing emotion, but I think to create realism within complicated relationships, the subtleties of the characters are extremely important. The characters of this particular film were too busy flailing and nagging for me notice anything else about them.

The film is, however, a comedy. And perhaps what I'm finding as redundant is supposed to be comedic... c'est la vie. I just found myself consistently more irritated than humored.

Why two stars then? I give it two stars because it wasn't a total abomination. For me, two stars usually translates to: "It had its moments."
In the end, it was an easy-to-watch popcorn 80s film that some people would really enjoy. Just not my particular cup o' tea.

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