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Jane Craig:  Holly Hunter
Aaron Altman:  Albert Brooks
Tom Grunick:  William Hurt
Written and directed by James L. Brooks

"We love to hug and poise for pictures."

James L. Brooks is to comedy/dramas what a beloved general is to troops:...beloved.

Brooks wrote, directed and produced 1987s Broadcast News, the tale of three network news hounds trying to capture respect and quality in the business.  Brooks hatched the idea after going to a conference of news reporter professionals and befriending many of them.  He based his three lead characters on the people he met there.  

The three couldnt be more different from each other, and they couldnt be more alike.  The contradiction is glaring until it is abundantly clear its true.  The film starts with the three as children. 

Tom (William Hurt) is an earnest, but unlucky at academics boy in search of pleasing his working class dad. 

Jane (Holly Hunter) is a little girl with neuroses that rival even the greatest eccentrics.

Aaron (Albert Brooks) is an overachieving fifteen year old belittling his older fellow graduates with the retort that theyll never make more than 19,000 dollars a year.

We catch up with them as adults, Jane and Aaron already co-workers and best friends; and Tom as a green anchor recruit.  Jane is speaking at a conference for news business professionals not unlike the one Brooks attended.  She gives an impassioned presentation on the programming of newsworthy items.  When she is ignored and dismissed by her colleagues, she slumps beleaguered back into her seat at the front of the hall.  Tom walks up to her and complements her on her speech.  They eat dinner.  They walk.  They head for Janes hotel room.  Jane wants to get lucky.  Tom wants to tell his story.

Tom says he is one of those people Jane hates in the business a former sports reporter, uneducated, and looking to become a network news anchor.  His speech is simple, polite, and impassioned in its own right.  It also tells us everything we need to know about the character.  He walks out of the hotel room immediately following his speech saying is coming to work at the network Jane works at.  Jane gets mad for two reasons.  1) The epitome of what she stands against is coming to work at her place of business and 2) she wanted to get lucky.  We learn everything we need to know about her character in those moments and the moments following.

The stage is set for newsroom antics when Jane wants a shot of a Norman Rockwell painting to be shot and edited into a news piece about a solider coming home.  They have ten minutes before the story goes to air and Tom walks in to observe the moment the situation blows up.  The next five minutes is one of the most hectic and funny scenes filmed in the 1980s and certainly the best about the news business ever.

Tom is called to anchor a disaster in an emergency and the camaraderie he forms as Jane spills lines into his earpiece is the basis of the films story until, lo and behold, Janes best friend and oft-forgotten news reader Aaron declares his love for her.  What follows is the best love triangle I have seen on film and certainly the least polarizing.  In all other cases, the viewer is called on to choose which mate he or she prefers for the main character.  In Broadcast News, theyre all main characters and you switch alliances and beliefs almost as much as the characters do.

The film contains amazing performances from Hunter and Hurt, two thespians that should have worked together again.  They each play the surfaces and insecurities of their characters with a believable naturalism that lends credibility to the genre.  I didnt take to Albert Brooks.  He has some of the funniest scenes and delivers his lines with the dry wit that they require, but he never convinced me he wasnt playing himself.  His moments of laughter and bonding with Hunter fell flat as well in a movie that needed a good third corner for the triangle.

The films rapier wit and cleverness can be attributed to James L. Brooks.  The films levels are all over the map, from drama to romance to comedy.  He made them all work and work together.  He coaxed great performances out of his cast and managed to turn the plight of the news industry and its constituents into an incredibly entertaining movie.

In the end though, I felt left out in the cold by the ending.  I dont hate it.  I dont even think its wrong.  I just thought that the end of a film that showed so much tenderness, wit, and skill would do the same.




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