Directed by Roger Michell
Screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna
Rachel McAdams as Becky Fuller
Harrison Ford as Mike Pomeroy
Diane Keaton as Colleen Peck
Jeff Goldblum as Jerry Barnes
Ty Burrell as Paul McVee
Patrick Wilson as Adam Bennett
Runtime: 102 minutes
Motion Picture Rating: Rated PG-13 for some sexual content including dialogue, language and brief drug references.
Harrison Ford finally wakes up,
gives first great performance in over a decade.
Morning Glory is a film about morning people. I hate morning people. They’re chipper in the wee hours, charismatic go-getters by mid-day and tend to collapse just when I think things should be getting good. Morning Glory has the same problems. It’s an uplifting film, but not a very interesting one. It features some delightful performances, but in service of nothing. Opportunities come and go to say something worthwhile about the characters and – topical, topical – the news, but they are not realized by the end of the film, when the two protagonists literally walk into the sunset, bantering ‘adorably’ as they go. It’s like the movie gives up and collapses on a bed of clichés, completely spent before the rest of us can even suggest going out for drinks. I wanted to like Morning Glory more than I did, but at least I can definitely say I liked it. I just wish it managed its time better.
Rachel McAdams stars as Becky, a young and exuberant morning news show producer who gets fired from her job at a local affiliate only to find herself running “Daybreak,” the lowest-rated network morning show in America. Sure the network is called IBS (which is easily the worst attempt at humor in the film) but it’s still a network morning show, damn it, so Becky’s going to give it her best shot. “Daybreak,” naturally, is a joke of a show. Every doorknob is falling off of its handle, the hosts are egomaniacs and the producers can barely book the third lead in the new Patrick Dempsey movie, which might have been impressive back in 1989 but… wait, that was never impressive. “Daybreak” sucks.
What it needs, Becky surmises, is a new host, and luckily for Becky the legendary anchorman Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) is under contract with the network but not actually, you know… doing anything. He’s one of the last of the diehard newsmen, dedicated to the informing his viewers and openly offended by the morning news cycle’s history of pandering to their audience with stories about celebrities or sauerkraut festivals. A loophole in his contract forces him to debase himself on “Daybreak” (he’d be more concerned if anybody actually watched the show, of course), but that just leads to a battle of wills between a woman who needs a man, and a man who doesn’t think he needs a woman.
But what is shocking – shocking, I tell you – is the fact that Morning Glory’s script doesn’t try to make Becky and Mike fall in love. It’s a good thing, since Harrison Ford is old enough to be Rachel McAdams’ grandfather, but it results in a waste of chemistry. Rachel McAdams spends so much screentime at loggerheads with Harrison Ford – who hasn’t been this charismatic since the last Indiana Jones movie (or rather, the last good one) – that her love story with Patrick Wilson feels superfluous. In fact, a lot of this movie feels tacked on. Becky claims at the end of the film that “Daybreak” has become a family to her… a sentiment familiar to anybody who’s seen a movie before. But Morning Glory never puts in the effort necessary to make them actually feel like a family. They spend all their time at work simply working, and are for the most part completely uninvolved in each other’s actual lives. You could argue that “Daybreak” is their life. You could argue that, but the actual movie spends most of the climax arguing against it.
At its best, Morning Glory has all the energy of a Busby Berkeley musical. All of the characters are down-on-their-luck performers who decide that the only solution to their problems is to “put on a show.” And not just any show: a roaring cavalcade of entertainment. Like James Cagney in Footlight Parade, Becky spends most of the film coming up with new ideas to amuse the masses, and she’s really very good at it. Torturing the weather guy, making Diane Keaton French kiss a frog, etc… Oh yeah, Diane Keaton is in this movie. I don’t feel bad about not mentioning it, since the filmmakers completely forgot about her too. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn there’s a lot of footage of her on the cutting room floor.
“Daybreak’s” audience is entertained by these antics and so is Morning Glory’s, but the film has an interesting take on the age-old battle between hard-hitting news and entertainment: namely, that entertainment “won.” There’s still room for Mike’s occasional news story, but Becky’s road to success begins with stepping on journalistic integrity for the sake of a quick ratings boost. Normally one would assume that by the end of the film Becky would learn a valuable lesson about balancing her responsibility to inform her audience with her responsibility to entertain them. Morning Glory is too busy being bright and bubbly to communicate such lofty ideas. After all, it might distract from Becky’s relationship with Patrick Wilson, which already distracts too much from everything else, and then where would we be? Besides someplace more interesting, that is.
Morning Glory doesn’t really come together at the end. The story gets muddled and distracted, and Rachel McAdams is too ridiculously attractive to be a convincing wallflower, which is supposedly a plot point. So it’s not perfect. Oh well. It’s still one of the wittiest comedies of the year, full of energy and feel goodedness. It’s worth watching just to remind yourself why Harrison Ford is a star, but don’t expect to get much more out of it than that.
Wait… A movie about a morning news show that successfully promotes a celebrity but lacks all substance? Maybe Morning Glory is kind of brilliant after all.