Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Opens Wednesday, November 10th, 2010, Rated PG-13
Run Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Wilson
Directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill)
I'll admit right off the bat that I love Rachel McAdams as an actress...she's charming and funny, and pretty in that normal-every-day-gal kind of a way. It's a good thing that she has that hold over me, otherwise "Morning Glory" would be a colossal cheese-tastic failure. But McAdams is perfectly cast and gives the movie just enough life to make it a passable romantic comedy, albeit a very predictable one.
What's the Story? McAdams is TV Producer Becky Fuller, a work-aholic who's job defines her. She doesn't have much of a social life at all, but it almost doesn't seem to bother her...she's too focused on work to even realize she's not getting any younger. When she's fired from a local news program, she drifts without purpose until she fights and gets a new job producing "Daybreak", a "Good Morning America" style show currently in last place in the ratings for the fictional IBS network. She attempts to revitalize Daybreak by bringing in the legendary TV anchorman, Mike Pomeroy (Ford), who is still technically on contract with IBS. He is described as "the 3rd worst person in the world", but through a contractual glitch, he has no choice but to take up his new job doing the lowly morning news for Daybreak. His contract also gives him rights of refusal on stories he can cover, so he literally sits at the anchor desk, a miserable lump of a man, refusing to do nearly anything asked of him by Fuller. There is also Pomeroy's co-anchor Colleen Peck, the typical self-absorbed on-camera personality, who is equally difficult in her own way.
Oh yah, I mentioned this was a romantic comedy? Becky meets an executive at the network (Wilson) and falls in love...It's just not the centerpoint of the movie, and smartly. Just like Becky herself,, the movie is more focused on the career antics than on the love life. The best portions of the movie deal not with her personal relationships, but with her struggles to make Daybreak a success. As the movie sags in the middle, when the show receives bad news and has nothing to lose, watching McAdams let loose and run wild with the show is when the movie is at it's funniest, especially a sequence of increasingly bizarre stories featuring the weatherman, who is put in harms way again and again because of the great ratings it generates.
A word on predictability. Now Morning Glory, like most rom-coms, is very predictable. Before I go any further let me take a brief moment to discuss "predictable" storylines. Often film critics will use the word "predictable" as a negative, as if every movie must keep us guessing at all times or it is no good. On the contrary. We all know going into a movie called Titanic that the boat is going to sink. That's predictable. But if the journey towards the inevitable conclusion is compelling, it can still make for a good movie. The Town (my pick thus far as one of the best films of 2010) was panned by some critics because it was "predictable." Even if you could guess where it was headed, it doesn't and shouldn't take away from the overall experience of the movie...
...so this brings us to Morning Glory, the opposite of my examples like Titanic and The Town. In Morning Glory the predictability of what happens next takes away from our experience. It doesn't stand out. We already know that Becky is going to have a happy ending, we know that Pomeroy won't always be a grump, and we know that Daybreak was destined to succeed the minute she walks through the door. So is Morning Glory a "bad" movie because we've seen it hundreds of times before? Yes and no. When it comes to romantic comedies, the genre nearly has nowhere else to go, nothing we haven't already seen. But if you like romantic comedies, or read trashy novels knowing that they all end the same, you may like Morning Glory too.
The Performances. Aside from McAdams as a shining bright light, Harrison Ford gives a very gruff and different performance than most are used to seeing. As an "old school" news guy, he has given up on the medium almost altogether. He is sooooo unpleasant, and miserable in this film, and at the same time we can tell that Ford is loving playing this type of guy. Keaton is under-used but hams it up every chance she gets, and reminded me of the Jenna character on 30 Rock, flash-forward 30 years. And how do you not love a cameo by Modern Family's doofus dad, Ty Burrell, who gets laughs just for being on camera. He is destined to be a starring comedy lead man down the road, and his brief yet funny appearance here confirms his talent.
Bottom Line. Morning Glory is a mildly entertaining, neatly-wrapped comedy that I think is worth seeing for Rachel McAdams alone. It is all too predictable, in the wrong kind of ways, and toward the end is so heavy-handed cheesy that it may make your stomach churn. But it reminded me of comedies from the 80s and 90s, which back then would have starred someone like Meg Ryan. It was nice to watch a comedy without the gross-out humor of Due Date or The Hangover, a movie you could take your grandma to and both walk away satisfied.
I liked the subtle messages that it brought to light as well regarding news and our media. Pomeroy is an old stubborn coot, but I shared in his frustration with current media practices. Why can't real news be reported in the morning? Becky never even considers trying this out in the film, a product of her generation in the industry where only ratings matter. These themes are never focused on in the movie, but to someone close to the industry I found it to have a lot of insight into the inner-workings of media.
But is it one of the better films this year? Absolutely not. But not every film has to be compared to the best of the best. Morning Glory is a decent flick and like most morning news, is mildly entertaining and fluffy while it lasts, the kind of thing you catch if you are up and in the right mood with nothing else to do.
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