Directed by: Roger Michell
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson
Running Time: 1 hr 47 mins
Release Date: November 10, 2010
PLOT: A passionate young television executive producer (McAdams) is determined to save a morning show with low-ratings from complete annihilation. A crusty old newscaster named Mike Pomeroy (Ford) makes this increasingly difficult.
WHO’S IT FOR? Morning Glory does tend to identify with chick-flick like moments, but the center of the story is not so much about romance so much as it is getting the job done (something both genders can appreciate). Fans who find simple joy in watching Diane Keaton or Harrison Ford will have the most fun as opposed to those who expect big things from these specific actors whom we don’t see on-screen often.
EXPECTATIONS: Casting Diane Keaton vs. Harrison Ford sounded like a treat, and a fun wink at the 1977 Best Picture race (Annie Hall vs. Star Wars). In the middle of this would be Rachael McAdams, who would hopefully be working with a character that has a little more spice than any “typical” working girl.
Rachel McAdams as Becky: A bulb that refuses to burn out no matter how much support she lacks, Becky is an inspired workaholic. McAdams’ consistent peppiness in the role, complimented by her wide eyes and killer teethy smile, help us share parts of the character’s enthusiasm, especially when she’s “bungling” her big chances. While Becky doesn’t inspire us as much as past on-screen working girls before, we do find her hard-working attitude and emotional nature to be successfully adorable.
Harrison Ford as Mike Pomery: Down, Harrison, Down. Speaking in a vicious low voice as if he were going to start foaming at the mouth at any second, Ford flirts with overacting as this self-centered man-diva of a veteran news reporter. For much of the movie, his negative attitude is aimed at with laugh potential, but he often sinks his teeth too deep into his co-workers to be considered humorous (sometimes with little reasoning). Like his past role in the medical drama Extraordinary Measures, Ford appears too desperate to be unlikeable, and his emotional turnaround lacks credibility because of it. Also like that film, the appearance of Ford is more fulfilling than the performance itself.
Diane Keaton as Colleen Peck: Siding with the side of “entertainment” over news when it comes to what a morning show should offer, Keaton is a great sport here. Sniping back at Ford’s Scrooge-like character and participating in odd segments that make for a laugh or two, Keaton has the presence in this movie that makes for good television, and a pleasant supporting act. Morning Glory wrongly sidetracks her in favor of Mike + Becky drama, but at least Keaton provides the ray of sunshine this morning show crew needs.
Patrick Wilson as Adam Bennett: The man who once played Nite Owl in Watchmen is given a very easy assignment in Morning Glory – flirt with Rachel McAdams. A very flat love interest, Adam is some guy who works upstairs who becomes her love interest and source of stress relief, even though the movie almost teaches us to not trust him. When he tries to isolate Becky from her phone, it feels forceful instead of thoughtful (followed by him picking her up and bringing her to his mancave). Plus, he has impeccable timing, always showing up whenever she needs a shoulder to cry on and a lip to kiss. Wilson’s character is not so much charming as he is kind of sketchy. How do we know he won’t treat good ol’ Becca like he did that random blonde at the bar?
TALKING: In a possible wink to Colbert-era of journalism, the term “gravitas” is used. Though lacking in a sufficient amount, there are a few laugh-out-loud funny bits of dialogue scattered throughout the script.
SIGHTS: Morning Glory’s biggest laughs come from its actual on-air sequences, particularly those that feature the wacky Weatherman Ernie (Matt Malloy). Some moments are more amusing than others, but at least these scenes help the audience fully understand as to why “Daybreak” could suddenly be doing so well.
SOUNDS: The soundtrack selects enough upbeat morning commute-friendly songs that only Starbucks should be able to sell it. Joss Stone contributes a couple of soulful songs and other performing artists, like Natasha Bedingfield, Colbie Caillat and the Weepies have their material used mostly during montages. The biggest stand out is Michael Buble’s Michael Buble-tastic piano cover of Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck In the Middle with You” which is used in a scene the visually introduces the stubborn relationship between Mike Pomeroy and Colleen Peck. Ford’s impromptu mumbling of “Two Sleepy People” would make a nice closer to Morning Glory’s soundtrack. (Or an opener, come to think of it.)
BEST SCENE: Why is a fake TV-weatherman putting himself in harm’s way for TV ratings a funny sight to watch? I don’t know. But it just is. At least he doesn’t rap.
ENDING: After a few battles have been won, Becky and Mike Pomeroy literally walk into the New York City daybreak, their heads filled with ideas for the future.
QUESTIONS: How authentic is the presentation of the newsroom? Can sequences, such as Pomeroy’s impromptu “seggment” be accomplished in that short amount of time?
REWATCHABILITY: Morning Glory stubbornly doesn’t want to be as special as it might have been. A second viewing down the line wouldn’t be painful, but I’d rather give The Devil Wears Prada a second look instead.
One wouldn’t immediately call “The Today Show” hard-hitting journalism, but these shows do understand the healthy balance between “cute” material and then what is simply junk. Thankfully Morning Glory is just a movie, as any real morning show would implode were it trying to run on the film’s proposed level of cuteness. No peppy executive, no matter how often she was on her Blackberry, would be able to save it.
While some laughs are to be had with the film, most of them do not come from Morning Glory’s main focus, which is the working relationship between Becky and Pomeroy. Quickly becoming too relentlessly stubborn to laugh at, Ford makes for a bleakness that the script tries to recover from with a third-act pile-on of fluff material. From the crying to the running-in-slow-motion through the city sequence, to an epiphany from Pomeroy, it’s all there, and in massive doses (and don’t get me started on Wilson). It’s understandable that black coffee might need some sugar, but Morning Glory gets too sweet, too fast.
A recurring joke from Mike Pomeroy is that he doesn’t do the word “fluffy,” and by the end of the film we don’t blame him. Fluff material just isn’t fresh material.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10