I didn’t laugh at James L. Brook’s Broadcast News like I would your typical comedy (This is no Anchorman). However, I did find myself chuckling, in spite of myself, because these characters are humans and as humans, they are screw ups, petty people, and have errors in judgment. The humor comes in the everyday occurrences of working with a news station. There is constant chaos paired with egos butting heads and somehow the news still gets reported.
At such a news station there are three seemingly everyday people who form a triangle of sorts. First off there is Tom Grunick (William Hurt), a handsome anchorman who is often sincere but lacking in the smarts and experience of others. Then, you have Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks), an experienced reporter with a gift for writing and a dream to be an anchorman as well. Finally, caught between the two fellows is manic producer Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) who excels in her career.
Aaron is a longtime friend and partner of Jane who secretly loves her. Tom comes into the picture as the inexperienced one, and it looks like he won’t be going anywhere. However, he gets his chance with a special report and thanks to Jane he hits it out of the park. It so exhilarating and all of a sudden he feels a lot closer too. That’s what Broadcast News does to these people. It makes them feel that much closer and it begins to make it difficult to filter their feelings. That’s how Jane finds herself caught between two men who both seem to love her.
It takes a major layoff to shake up the status quo and it reveals a bit more of the pettiness that exists within the industry (reflected some by Jack Nicholson’s evening anchor). Aaron quits his job, Tom gets promoted to a post in London, and Jane gets the position of her old boss who receives the boot. Aaron is jealous of Tom and his goodbye to Jane is a rather sour one. Jane, on the other hand, has some choice words for Tom when she finds out how he manipulated one of his news reports. That’s the way life is. It might be set up like a perfect love triangle initially, but then no one seems to win in the end.
We come back to the three individuals a few years down the road and they have all moved on with their careers and their personal lives. Not everything is patched up and they hardly have much in common anymore, but they can still talk and continue living their lives as before.
This film did not strike me as laugh out loud funny or remarkably spellbinding, but it was a truthful look at life at a news station. That in itself is a compliment to the film even if it is not altogether extraordinary because it seems genuine. I will certainly always be a fan of two of Brook’s other creations for the small screen, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Taxi. He has a great breadth of work to be proud of.