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Morning Glory Review


RATING:
(3 STARS)

Morning Glory reminded me of eating Oreos. It’s rather hollow—a comfort film, if you will—but settles in a place so easygoing and feel-good that you can’t help but smile. This is a crowd pleaser, plain and simple. But sometimes that works, and director Roger Michell’s film has all the right ingredients. It has a radiant star, a few wily veterans, a screenplay that’s genuinely funny at times, and a touch of romance and sentimentality. Mix that all together, and you’ve got a recipe that, while not wholly satisfying, hits enough right buttons to be a worthy watch.

Becky (Rachel McAdams) is an energetic young producer at a New Jersey morning television show. Her career is her life. She devotes herself completely to the show, hoping that her hard work will eventually lead to her dream job at the Today Show. But a shock is thrown her way when her boss decides she’s expendable. Her next career opportunity is a demotion in every sense of the word. As executive producer for Daybreak, the morning show on a fictional national network, Becky receives a pay cut, has to deal with the show’s diva anchor, Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton), and needs to replace the show’s other anchor. Her choice: Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), one of the most respected names in the news business who is regarded by one character as “the third-worst person in the world.” Cantankerous doesn’t even begin to describe Mike. He hates the world of morning television, but he has to do the show or lose his lucrative network contract. But he only gives it a half-hearted try, and with ratings plummeting, Becky has six weeks to turn things around or else find herself unemployed once again.

Morning Glory’s ads have called it the best adult comedy since The Devil Wears Prada. I’d say it’s the movie The Devil Wears Prada should have been. In that film, the lead (Anne Hathaway) was dull, the writing was average, and Meryl Streep was one-note. This film, while sharing many cosmetic similarities, improves on each of these faults tenfold.

Any praise of Morning Glory should begin with Rachel McAdams’ fantastic performance. I’m not at all ashamed to say it’s one of my favorite female performances this year. It’s not at all challenging, but she’s just so good at capturing our sympathy and keeping our eyes glued to her. She’s always been a star in my book (great and underrated in films like The Time Traveler’s Wife and Married Life), but if this film doesn’t skyrocket her to the A-list, I don’t know what will.

While not quite her equals, Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford fill their roles quite nicely. Mike Pomeroy is a role we know Ford can play. He’s got his best Bale-as-Batman impression going on here, but beyond that, I appreciated the glimpses of humanity Ford and the screenplay give us. People loved Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, but what was that character other than a bitch? What range did she have? I’m not saying Ford is outstanding or anything, but at least he’s forced to wear a few different hats. Keaton on the other hand is memorable for her restraint. In the film, she’s clearly a third wheel, with the bulk of the focus being on Becky and Mike’s relationship. Keaton makes herself memorable without trying to distract too much from the other two. She has some of the film’s funniest moments, but leaves it at that, which I actually appreciated, as much as would’ve loved seeing more from the fine actress.

Then there’s the writing, which is surprisingly excellent, albeit predictable and incredibly familiar. There are some moments of genuine pathos between Becky and Mike, as well as some laugh-out-loud humor. A film like this needs to succeed at two things—making you laugh and making you care. Aline Brosh McKenna’s screenplay succeeds on both counts in spades.

The screenplay and the film falter a little bit, however, when it comes to the romantic elements. Becky’s relationship with an evening news producer (Patrick Wilson) is woefully underwritten, and while it could have worked in the context of the film, Wilson’s character seems to pop in and out only when the screenplay needs him to.

That was the biggest of a few minor problems I had with the film. I thought music was overused and inconsistent. Generic pop songs littered the film, but occasionally, a somber score took its place. The two types of music clashed a little too much for my taste. I also thought the strange presence of Dutch-angle shots for no apparent reason distracted a little from what was going on. It’s fine to do some fun things with the camerawork, but when these flourishes persist as much as they do in Morning Glory, it becomes frustrating and distracting.

But those seem like minor gripes for a film I really enjoyed. I’m usually a big proponent of originality, but sometimes a film reminds me that it doesn’t have to be original to be good. Sometimes, all it needs to do is bring a big smile to your face, and Morning Glory does just that thanks to its clever writing and great performances.

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