Henry Hackett (Michael Keaton) is a newspaper editor and part of an insane world. He has a wife (Marisa Tomei) who is very pregnant and seemingly going very crazy, he has a reporter that insists his chair at work is debilitating him, he has another reporter (Randy Quaid) that insists a city official is out to kill him and Hackett just interviewed for a job that he got, but doesn’t want, but it may mean his marriage if he doesn’t take it. Then throw in a seemingly racially motivated murder that was pinned on a couple of teenagers who are innocent and Henry is on one side of the story and Alicia is, of course, on the other.
noble yet conniving at the same time about journalism in general and I think that makes great material for a movie.
I also love movies that are witty, fast-paced, wonderful ensemble casting and a conflict of a good person trying to do the right thing - no matter how hard or crazy it seems. It may sound like a cliche, but this movie has all of that and more.
One of the major themes throughout this movie is about choices and Keaton plays a man trying to keep his life together and figure out how to make it work. He is a workaholic about to become a father and can't seem to figure that there has to be a work/personal life balance. I like that he plays a guy that is so on top of things at work and so clueless about anything else. He is a delight to watch fast-talk and smart-ass his way in and out of trouble throughout the movie.
It also amazes me how the director, Ron Howard, is so masterful at ensemble films. He weaves so many character's stories into this film without feeling like you are short-changing the main character, because they all revolve around him in some way and telling the story of the people close to him furthers his story too. That also helps with the fast pacing and keeping the audience interested because much like an ensemble TV drama - the focus is jumping around to other characters to always keep things moving.
The script on this one is phenomenal with great one-liners. Here are a few of my favorites:
Henry Hackett (Michael Keaton): “Boy, sometimes you can just smell the horrendously shitty day on the way, can’t you?”
Bernie White (Robert Duvall): “Don’t ask marital advice from the guy with two ex-wives and a daughter who won’t speak to him. The problem with being my age is everybody thinks you’re a father figure, but you’re really just the same asshole you always were.”
Henry Hackett (Michael Keaton): “When did you get so paranoid?”
Mike McDougal (Randy Quaid): “When they started plotting against me.”
The one, really over-the-top scene kinda surprised me. Towards the end, Close and Keaton actually end up in a physical fight. It was a little crazy and unbelievable, but I have to say, Close is one of the few women who could make it look like a possible fair fight in the scenario, so you don't feel too upset at Keaton for pickin' on a defenseless woman. :-)
I watched this a decade ago and after this, my second viewing, enjoyed it as much - if not more - the second time around. If you have never seen this one or haven't seen it since it came out - give it another watch. Plus, you gotta watch it for the funny John Wayne imitation Keaton does to mock Close. This is definitely a fun one.