Tuesday, November 22, 2011
This is a movie that I "discovered" when I bought it from Amazon as a blind buy during a sale. It took me almost 3 months to find the time and sit down to watch this movie because I had no idea of the greatness I was depriving myself of. The movie has three great leads in Albert Brooks, William Hurt, and Holly Hunter. These three really carry the movie the entire way and each has their own positives and negatives that are showcased throughout the movie. This is also one of James L. Brooks' first feature films and he hit it out of the park with what was both a critical success and a top box office draw as well. All of the characters feel three dimensional and while there is no evil to fight in the movie, you as the viewer will find your allegiances switching between the three main characters several times throughout the course of the movie.
The movie deals with the lives of three different individuals involved in the broadcast news industry. Aaron(Brooks), a news reporter and gifted writer, Tom(Hurt), a charismatic but intellectually limited news anchor, and Jane(Hunter), a talented producer who is very high strung and intense. This is a movie that deals with the process that goes into getting the news onto our television screens and the pressure and tension that the job puts on the individuals in the industry. Tom has amazing screen presence when on the news but he has very little idea of how to actually craft a story to present to people and is most relegated to reading other people's words. This eats at him because he really wants to learn and grow but he feels like he is too stupid to be accepted or given the chance. Aaron is the opposite, he is an immensely talented writer and reported but when given the chance to be an anchor, he realizes that he simply does not have what it takes to do the job. Both of the characters are immensely likable because the viewer can find qualities of themselves in both characters and you connect with one or the other.
The other main character in the movie is Jane, and she drives a majority of the plot because she is so heavily tied to both of the main male characters in the movie. She is a highly motivated woman and also an excellent news producer. Jane truly believes that the reporters and producers are there to film and preserve what is actually going on in a given place for a story. She does not believe in telling people they are filming what to do and she believes that people in the industry who work hard should be rewarded. This puts her into a conflict with Tom because she percieves him as being the antichrist of the news industry, just another pretty face with nothing behind it. In Tom's defense, I must say that he is simply doing the best he can do and if people want to promote him then that is their business. He happened to have been very good at the job they gave him and you really do see that as the movie unfolds. He is not a nasty person, he was raised by a father who only knew selling so he taught his son to sell himself. This is a movie that deals a lot with perception in both the news world and in our personal lives. I will talk to that later in the review. Aaron is in love with Jane and that puts him in direct conflict with Tom even if there is no rel animosity between the two. Tom respects both and tries to learn from both of them and in stereotypical fashion also ends up teaching them as well.
The movie is an odd type of romantic comedy and inside look into the television news industry. The movie also deals with the perception of people in their personal and work lives. Tom is perceived as a vapid pretty boy at his job but in his personal life he is thoughtful and tries to learn even though he may be limited intellectually. Aaron comes off a pompous and crass reporter and that is the way he handles himself in many situations. When in reality he is madly in love with Jane and the feelings are never reciprocated and it drives him crazy. He is also self conscious and feels he must be better than everyone else in order to get what he wants. The movie sees each of these individuals interact with each other in both their personal lives and their works lives and they get to know each other and how much different they really are then they are perceived by most people.
This is a great comedy and also work as an effective drama as well. Brooks, Hurt, and Hunter are maybe the best lead cast I have seen in a long time. It has been a while since I saw three lead actors as strong as them and they delivered each performance with such conviction that it was just amazing to watch. This is along with Blow Out, two of the best movies that were produced in the 1980s. They may not be the most entertaining movies but they are two of the most well crafted thought out movies of the decade. This movie has moved into my top 20 comedies of all time. This movie deserves a 9/10 a funny honest portrayal of the news industry.