This is a well-meaning satire of television news and where it was headed in the 1980s (i.e. where we are today with infotainment) that is hijacked by a love triangle, which prevents it from turning into the 80s Network, which is certainly could have been.
The acting is stellar – every single person is excellent and the three leads deliver some of the best performances of their long careers. (I’d single out Hunter for praise but Brooks and Hurt are awfully good as well.) And when the film is just doing news satire, it works. And when the film is focusing primarily on their love triangle it works surprisingly well. And, even though I didn’t laugh out loud as much as I would have liked – not all the jokes landed for me like they might have in ’87 (were I not 6) or if this wasn’t just a Romantic Comedy instead of just a Comedy – I still laughed enough and there were some great lines.
But the balance is off: The love triangle should have been subservient to the satire or, frankly, not in the film at all. Or the love triangle should have been its own film (which I would have liked less but perhaps thought better of) with TV news being the setting. Either way, I think a better film would have resulted. Instead, we get a bunch of strong scenes and good lines with way too much of a focus on the personal relationships for a satire of TV news, or way too much focus on satire for a Romantic Comedy. There’s lots of good stuff here, but it’s not a great film.
PS I read an article a year or two later that made me rethink the film, though I haven’t watched it since I read the article.
- Directed by James L. Brooks
- Produced by James L. Brooks
- Written by James L. Brooks
- William Hurt as Tom Grunick
- Albert Brooks as Aaron Altman
- Holly Hunter as Jane Craig
- Robert Prosky as Ernie Merriman
- Lois Chiles as Jennifer Mack
- Joan Cusack as Blair Litton
- Peter Hackes as Paul Moore
- Christian Clemenson as Bobby
- Jack Nicholson as Bill Rorish
- Leo Burmester as Mr. Craig
- Marita Geraghty as Date-Rape Woman
- Glen Roven as News Theme Writer
- Marc Shaiman as News Theme Writer
- John Cusack as Angry Messenger
- Music by Bill Conti
- Cinematography Michael Ballhaus
- Edited by Richard Marks
- Production company: Gracie Films
- Distributed by 20th Century Fox
- Release date: December 16, 1987
- Running time: 133 minutes
- Country: United States
- Language: English
- Budget: $15 million
- Box office: $67,331,309