A few years ago, there was a TV show called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, all about the showrunners of an SNL-like late night comedy sketch show and their daily work lives, with a liberal dose of comedy sprinkled in. Watching Broadcast News, a film with almost the exact same premise but with a TV news station instead, I was reminded a lot of Studio 60, of which I was a big fan, so naturally, I liked Broadcast News as well. James L. Brooks writes and directs this one, which stars William Hurt, Albert Brooks (no relation), and Holly Hunter, each as a vital cog in the oftentimes erratic and spastic working machine of cable news.
While the film is mainly tailored to the camaraderie and work inter-relations of the news station, the film is actually a story about a love triangle between the three leads. Each has its own weird hangups and problems, and each works to varying degrees, and that’s what’s so remarkable about the film; it is so grounded in reality, the way people really interact and have real multi-faceted relationships, and at the same time it never ceases to surprise you. If you go into this film and expect certain things to happen after this scene or this bit of dialogue, you’ll be continually dumbfounded at the direction the film turns instead, as I was. This is about as anti-conventional formulaic Hollywood as a script can get. Speaking of which, the script is definitely one of the highlights; it flows and crackles like an Aaron Sorkin script (again, the Studio 60 connection is made evident). It’s infinitely quotable and full of robust characterization, and kept the movie alive, keeping it as it should be. Really well done all around.
Now, as much as I liked Broadcast News, I saw a lot of identifiability with Network, and it made me question why both films made the list when only one would’ve done it, and to that end Network seems the obvious choice between the two. While the tone of each film is different (and if you’ve seen both Network and Studio 60, you’ll know what I mean), the two are just too remarkably similar to warrant two spots on the list. With that being said, though, this reminded me so much of an Aaron-Sorkin-penned film that I knew probably twenty to thirty minutes in that I was going to love it, and indeed I did. If you’re a fan of greatly-written scripts that eschew the tried-and-true narrative and dialogue that normally comes out of the system, you will absolutely love Broadcast News. If not, and I do know some people who wouldn’t, this will likely be an exercise in frustration for you, but only because it does what it does so well you’ll be stymied by it. It really is so good that some may be confusedly mystified, and that to me is a very good thing.
Arbitrary Rating: 9/10