Revelations about and because of James L. Brooks’ ‘Broadcast News’

First things first – so sorry I have been MIA over the last month! The movie watching has not stopped (if it had you know something would have to be SERIOUSLY wrong). I have been watching ’em and making my list of movies to discuss and over the next several weeks, I’m finally going to get to it!

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the brilliant, hilarious and extremely relevant film Broadcast News. This was a movie I had seen several years ago, as a young teenager. Although I remember liking the film a lot, this second viewing at this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival, was surprising. Some films just have to be seen as an older person to be appreciated and I think Broadcast News is definitely one of them.

665961182.jpg
TBH…their conversation was straight-up hilarious. 

Prolific producer/writer/director James L. Brooks’ Broadcast News follows Jane Craig (Holly Hunter), a quickly rising tv news producer. She’s smart as a whip and literally thinks twelve steps ahead of everyone else around her. Her best friend is the hilarious, smart and IMHO very cute Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks). He’s one-hundred percent in love with Jane, something you can see five minutes into watching their relationship. A new anchor, Tom Grunick (William Hurt) comes onto the scene, pulling both at Jane’s heartstrings and encroaching on Aaron’s professional territory. In other words…DRAMA ENSUESSSSSSS.

fat ladies.gif
Burrrrrrrn. Really, though. I told you there’d be some drama. 

Here are just a few reasons Broadcast News is a movie you honestly should’ve put on your rundown (bad news pun)…like years ago!

The Cast

As I’ve said a bajillion times on this blog, casting is so important to how a movie turns out. If you cast people that are fun and relatable and just plain entertaining to watch, the characters can grow beyond just some lines of dialogue on a piece of paper. This film is a classic example of quite honestly, perfect casting.

One of the revelations from the TCM fest panel with James L. Brooks and Albert Brooks (no relation, guys, I swear) was that Holly Hunter was cast at the last minute and another unnamed actress almost got the part. Hunter was a virtual unknown at the time. She had just filmed Raising Arizona, a film which was only released a few months before Broadcast News. Hunter is the true anchor of the film, a confusing choice of words because she plays the executive producer of the news show in the film.

As a young woman, I find her portrayal of Jane to be so relatable. She’s so human and so complicated and filled with contradictions and you could never watch her and feel disconnected to her struggles.

giphy-1.gif
#RealTalk…I cry at least once a day.

Albert Brooks is so completely underrated. In the Q&A between Albert Brooks and James L. Brooks which was helmed by Ben Mankiewicz, Albert said he felt that Jane was never going to ultimately get with Aaron. Watching the film again, which was after the Q&A, I was like outrageously angry at Jane. If you were Jane, WHY WOULDN’T YOU GET WITH AARON? I mean, he’s intelligent, he’s funny, he’s self deprecating. He’s cute and a good person. I mean, come on, really though! I think this really goes to the heart of two arguments for me: one is attraction is about MORE than looks. The other is that I’m tired of movies never letting the actual good guy, the “underdog” get the girl. I mean, this is another Pretty in Pink scenario, guys. She belonged with Duckie, not that rich asshole.

getout.gif
I flinch every time I watch this scene…

Whew, thanks for letting me get out, y’all. Back to Albert Brooks being awesome. He, separate from his character, is smart and literally hilarious. If you need some proof, just watch this clip from The Tonight Show back in the 70’s.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – I just wrote a literal lovefest about Albert Brooks. How am I possibly going to sing William Hurt’s praises too? Well, you’re about to find out. I do understand Jane’s attraction to Hurt’s Tom Grunick. Grunick is charming and obviously adorable. And, the thing is, Hurt is extremely intelligent so his portrayal of a dunce is actually quite funny. He’s also a fantastic actor who was already an Academy Award winner at the time they filmed Broadcast News.

freaked out william hurt.gif
He’s a little freaked out…but his hair looks amazing!

The supporting players are also fantastic – Robert Prosky, a wonderful character actor plays the head of the news division. Jack Nicholson plays Bill Rorish, the top news anchor with an ego, quite a stretch for Nicholson! Cough, cough.

The real supporting MVP of the film though is one Joan Cusack. I’ve heard people refer to her as John Cusack’s sister which, is, of course, true but also infuriating. Do you think people refer to John Cusack as Joan Cusack’s brother? I think not! Okay, now I’m getting off topic. The upshot of it is she is a star in her own right and she is fantastic in this film. For real though, she delivers my favorite line in the film which she says to Holly Hunter’s Jane in tears: “Except for socially, you’re my role model.” Laugh-cry are the only words that can describe that moment.

broadcast news moment.gif
JOAN CUSACK IS EVERYTHING. 

The Script

Beyond the cast, the other essential piece of this film is the script. It is so wildly funny while also being relatable, relevant and moving. James L. Brooks wrote this as a romantic comedy which kind of cracks me up considering how the film ends.

Still, what movie being made today covers the same ground as Broadcast News? It’s essentially about people, but it’s also about the current (at the time obvi) state of television news, the ethics in telling a story, the moral obligation to be truthful. In this way, it’s an obvious precursor to Sorkin’s The Newsroom. His characters, too, are very preoccupied with the ethics of being a news reporter.

learn teach.gif
Hmmm…I don’t know about that. #Rationalization

I especially liked the focus on the three main characters since they were all so different, but still human and likable.

Tom is the handsome idiot, except he isn’t. Tom has a skill set that both Aaron and Jane are missing. He knows how to present information in a trustworthy, confident way.

all okay.gif
Even his hair is trustworthy…lol

Jane is a career girl and I think the real reason she struggles socially is not because she’s incapable, but because she believes the only way to excel in her career is to block out everything else.

fry your fat ass .gif
Lesson learned: DO NOT MESS WITH HOLLY HUNTER

Aaron, on the other hand, is intensely smart but also neurotic, which is what ultimately is blocking him. He can’t stop thinking for a minute…which of course, I don’t relate to at all.

giphy-2.gif
The FUNNIEST scene in the movie, but it’s also a bit hard to watch. 

The Romance

As you all know from reading my movie musings, I’m a fan of the romance. Whether the romance is a fan of me is another story…lol. But, seriously, the romance in this film is wonderful because like some of my other all time favorites, this film covers mature romantic struggles.

With Aaron and Jane, we are presented with one of the most used stereotypes from romcoms: the best friend who’s in love with the main character. I think they both want to love each other in that way, but the timing gets in the way. Jane’s not ready to let someone in while Aaron is more than ready.

I'm in love with you.gif
That flinch THO. #RealityBites

 

And then Tom enters their lives and catches Jane’s attention. He’s attractive and confident and interested…and they do actually feel real things for each other. But, again, Jane lets her walls get in the way, because, timing-wise, she’s just not ready.

NUTS.gif
He’s so TALL.

I think this is something not generally discussed in romantic films, the idea of not being ready for someone when they come into your life. There’s a reality there, so much so that when you see these three characters meet each other again at the end of the film, it doesn’t feel forced.

Because it’s still relevant, absolutely hilarious, and filled with brilliant dialogue and fantastic performances!

If you’ve never seen Broadcast News, you need to watch ASAP. If you have seen it, I guarantee it warrants another look, if only to realize just how much you relate to Holly Hunter’s character…or maybe that’s just me. I don’t think so…lol.

tumblr_oe89hjxOKu1vuignso1_500.jpg

Vintage trailer below:

Gifs property of Twentieth Century Fox.

The Angsty Magic of ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’

I remember a stray Friday night in my preteen years roaming around our neighborhood Blockbuster with my family. For all you youngins out there, Blockbuster is a place where people used to go and pick out one movie to watch because they couldn’t just look it up on their computer or smartphone…okay rant over. I saw the cover for Some Kind of Wonderful and showed it to my dad – he nodded and said, “Yeah, you’d like it.”

At this point, I had already seen the other John Hughes staples – Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles. Although I loved them, once I saw Some Kind of Wonderful, it blew them all out of the water. My twelve year-old self related to Keith (Eric Stoltz) more than I related to any of Molly Ringwald’s characters.

don't fly too well.gif
Misfits = RELATABLE

If you’ve never seen Some Kind of Wonderful, here’s the 411. The film was made in 1987 and was written by John Hughes and directed by Howard Deutch (who, at the time, had only directed Pretty in Pink). It is said that Hughes wrote the film partly because he was upset about how Pretty in Pink turned out. Both films follow the ‘best friend secretly in love archetype’ but the way they end is, shall we say, DIFFERENT.

Some Kind of Wonderful follows Keith (Eric Stoltz), a quiet artist-type, and his best friend Watts (Mary Stuart-Masterson), a tomboy with a bit of a crush. *Cough Cough* Meanwhile, Keith becomes interested in Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson), a beautiful and popular girl at school. Class wars and teen drama ensues. Oh, and all that 80’s stuff too!

Here are just a few reasons why I’m still in love with Some Kind of Wonderful‘s angsty magic:

The Cast

The cast is EVERYTHING in this film. Eric Stoltz, who is famously known to have been the original Marty McFly in Back to the Future before being replaced by Michael J. Fox, plays Keith, a loner artist with a big heart. Apparently, filming was a bit contentious as director Howard Deutch and Stoltz did not get along. Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine the film without Stoltz’s quiet charm.

200-4.gif
There’s something about his hair…amiright?

Lea Thompson, known for her role in Back to the Future and more recently, Switched at Birth, wasn’t particularly interested in the part. Howard the Duck, which she had starred in, had just been released. It was one of the biggest flops in film history. Stoltz apparently biked up Laurel Canyon to give her the script and urge her to play the role. And good thing she did, because she sorta kinda met her husband on the project, one Howard Deutch. That’s right, folks. She married the director. Like Stoltz, Lea was understated and obviously gorgeous – the perfect fit for Amanda Jones.

smile more.gif
Me too, Lea, me too!

Mary Stuart-Masterson was quite the revelation as Watts. She could play tough, while also exposing her vulnerability. With her short hair and don’t care attitude, she was pretty much my preteen hero, or heroine, as it were!

tumblr_m8bbfeCWHM1qakh43o1_500.gif
Her one-liners were killer!

The perfect casting extends into supporting characters. Elias Koteas is wonderful as the bully-turned-friend. He gives what could have been a throw away part, personality, and makes Duncan memorable and truly hilarious!

200-3.gif
Personality incarnate

Maddie Corman was perfect as Keith’s sister Laura. I’m embarrassed to say I related to her character a bit too much – she was a bit of a tattler. But, she did have some great one-liners. Her story is very interesting. She was a teenage actress and she went in to audition for the part in Some Kind of Wonderful during her mother’s battle with cancer. Knowing her mother was dying, she lied and told her she had gotten the part when, of course, she didn’t know that. She, of course, did get it and she’s brilliant.

getting into amanda.gif
Might be my favorite line…

Craig Sheffer is also wonderful as Hardy Jenns, the villain of our tale. He’s Amanda’s asshole boyfriend. He cheats on her, treats her like dirt, but he’s still kinda charming.

tumblr_lexapjU1jY1qdokywo1_500-1.jpg
What a LINE.

You also might notice little Candace Cameron Bure as Keith’s youngest sister. Not a big part, but definitely some memorable moments…

the girl is sex.gif
Full House was just a glint in her eye…

The Script

John Hughes wrote an amazing script. It wasn’t just filled with brilliant one-liners, though, of course, it had those! Hughes had an amazing talent for writing teenagers. He didn’t talk down to the audience and as such, his films still hold up today. Obviously, they’re very rooted in the time they were made, but when you think of the other films and filmmakers he inspired, it’s remarkable.

Additionally, I loved how he wrote the Amanda Jones character. She’s working class, beautiful, insecure, popular, sweet. In other words, she’s complex, like a REAL PERSON.

you didn't use me?.gif
I’m still wondering how they got into The Hollywood Bowl…

The parent dynamics were also great. Now, obviously, this is not new ground teen movie-wise, but I love the conflict between Keith and his dad. Keith’s dad wants him to go to college; Keith has different priorities.

when does my life belong to me?.gif
How many of us said something similar to our parents at 18??

The Soundtrack

The soundtrack is incredible and inextricable from the film. Like Hughes’ other films, the soundtrack serves as another character, giving the characters and their world life! Two of my favorites from the soundtrack are below: the March Violets cover of “Miss Amanda Jones” and Lick the Tins’ cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

The Romance

Like most films of this kind, the end is a couple getting together. It’s about the journey getting there. And what a fun, angsty journey it is!

195af870fb88b863548866965ca5734e.gif
The despair!
200-1.gif
Can someone say DUHHHH?
200-2.gif
I love this line and know I could never say it to someone without them laughing. HA
tumblr_nqvnllJIZ11uw71lqo2_500.gif
Probably one of the hottest kisses in film history…

While there is truth in it, I found that the best friend trope is really just that, a trope. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy it. I just don’t think it’s as real as my preteen self did. The ending of this film ALWAYS gets me. I cry happy tears, cause I can’t NOT.

 

2.gif
Already crying just looking at this GIF. 

The Nostalgia Factor

I saw this movie as a preteen and it made a huge impression on me. Obviously, I wasn’t born until 1992, so this was before my time. But, for all its flaws, I love this film unabashedly.

If a film still resonates, has it really aged?

200.gif
Ah, 1987. I was just a glint in my parents’ eyes…

Random Tidbits

A few years back, when I had just moved to Los Angeles, I remember seeing Some Kind of Wonderful on the American Cinematheque’s schedule. Unfortunately, I had no car that summer and also no friends willing to accompany me. I still haven’t forgiven myself for missing it. Lea Thompson and Howard Deutch were both there!

Their daughter, Zoey Deutch is now a star in her own right – however, it’s clear, having Lea and Howard as parents, she was born for this! She recently starred in Richard Linklater’s last film, Everybody Wants Some.

b031611a-0570_a_l.jpg
Howard Deutch, Zoey Deutch and Lea Thompson pose together as the Alzheimer’s Association gathers to celebrate the 19th Annual Night at Sardi’s at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. on March 16, 2011 (Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

The film captured the awkwardness of romance in high school. No doubt that its zingers definitely inspired the too-sophisticated dialogue of Dawson’s Creek which came a decade later. If you’re looking for an angsty, romantic, Saturday night watch, Some Kind of Wonderful is one of the best and certainly one of my all time favorites!

Vintage trailer below: