Rated PG-13 for some sexual content including dialogue, language and brief drug references.
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson
Written by: Aline Brosh McKenna
Directed by: Roger Michell
There are some days in which being a fake critic can be grating; there are movies that just plain suck and make you question just why you keep letting Hollywood continually kick you in the balls. But there’s also a big plus; if you are dedicated enough to see nearly every movie that comes out, occasionally something you thought would suck may surprise you. Morning Glory is one of these surprises. Suffice it to say, this is not a movie aimed at my demographic, and had I not want to continue pursuing my fake career, I would have most likely skipped it. I’m glad I didn’t. Although the movie is formulaic and disjointed at times, Morning Glory uses the power of its excellent cast to rise above the lackluster material and create something that is engaging and entertaining.
Rachel McAdams stars as Becky Fuller, a 28 year old television producer who lands a job in New York City producing the morning show for big (and fake) network station IBS (*snicker*). Called Daybreak, the show is regularly last in the ratings and on the verge of being canceled. Becky, who’s insanely perky and committed to her job, takes it upon herself to revamp the show, starting with hiring disgraced former news anchor Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to co-host along with Daybreak mainstay Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton). Amidst constant personality clashes between her and her anchors, especially with Pomeroy who refuses to engage in anything other than completely serious news, Becky fights to find someway to keep the show on the air. Somewhere in there, she also falls in love with fellow IBS producer Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson).
Morning Glory is Rachel McAdams’ movie and she runs with it. Her energy as the manic and committed to a fault Becky Fuller is infectious and she garners sympathy easier than dangling a baby over a pool of piranhas. You want her to succeed, to find love, to get her life in order; her ambition and commitment is damn admirable. She’s got spunk and unlike Ed Asner, I love spunk (ugh…that line doesn’t hold up well in 2010). Harrison Ford’s monotone turn as Pomeroy perfectly balances her character out; while she is zesty and full of life, he is beaten down and embarrassed to even have to do the morning talk show. Ford isn’t the greatest actor ever, but he is perfect here and he even gets to save the day at the end although not by using a whip or a gun. In fact, the cast as a whole was wonderful and really brought a movie to life that if it had starred someone like Kate Hudson would have been insufferable.
Even though some jokes tend to not hit (like Diane Keaton singing “Candy Shop” with 50 Cent), I found Morning Glory to be a lot more amusing than I expected. Pomeroy’s grizzled jabs at Peck, and Peck’s perky return barbs, were great and a whole sub-plot where they make their on-location reporter Ernie (Matt Malloy) ride the fastest roller coaster ever and skydive had me in tears (Malloy deserves all the credit for it; even though all he really does is scream, there’s just something about his reaction I found great). And everything Jeff Goldblum, who plays IBS executive Jerry Barnes, says and does is hilarious just by virtue of being Jeff Goldblum.
Now while the cast helped Morning Glory be enjoyable, there’s no hiding the fact that the story itself is kind-of bland. I mean, how many movies have we seen where the upstart has to save an organization/station/etc. from going bankrupt or shutting down? It’s a go to plot for Hollywood and the movie follows the usual steps those other movies take. Morning Glory also has issues when it deviates from the morning show itself; in theory the movie is about Becky and her romance with Adam is essentially just garnish on the plate and isn’t fleshed out enough to really make Wilson’s involvement worthwhile or that story itself worth watching. With so much time devoted to Daybreak and the cast of characters that make it up, anything else just doesn’t measure up or is given enough time to really impact the story.
Still, on the whole, Morning Glory is one of the more enjoyable movies I have seen this fall. It’s got a generic story and some other issues (don’t get me started on that cop out ending), but thanks to smart casting and the excellent energetic performance by McAdams, it doesn’t end up a pile of dreck. Instead, it’s the kind of fluffy entertainment that makes for a fun afternoon at the theater, or a nice Sunday while channel surfing.