19 December 2009

51. Broadcast News

It's a modern-day retelling of "Cyrano de Bergerac" with Brooks as Cyrano (his Jewishness substituting for the big nose), Hunter as Roxane, and Hurt as Ragueneau.

We get glimpses of them as kids -- the somewhat dumb but attractive kid laments his bad grades and wonders what he can do when he grows up and a subtitle tells us he's a "future news anchor"; the valedictorian gets roughed up and becomes a reporter; the pen-pal writer who argues semantics with her father becomes a producer.

And then they are thrown together when Hurt is promoted and comes to work with Brooks and Hunter in their Washington Bureau, where a love triangle emerges and the behind-the-scenes view of modern news is shown satirically.

There are things to admire: repurposing an old tale in a modern setting; the action based on circumstance and character rather than out of a need for a beat (I'm thinking mostly of Cusack taking the tape to the control room); Brooks' boozing after being thrown off a story; Brooks' anchoring marred by flop sweat.

That said, I didn't care for the movie. It wasn't funny enough to be a comedy, nor was it dramatic enough for me to be involved. The characters were more "types" than fleshed-out folks (here's how I know: I don't remember any of their names) and the ending jumped ahead with no regard for the audience.

80s James Brooks just isn't my thing.