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Morning Glory (A Movie Review)

Morning Glory


Starring Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, John Pankow, Ty Burrell, Matt Malloy, J. Elaine Marcos, Patti D’Arbanville, Adrian Martinez, Maddie Corman, Don Hewitt, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, Lloyd Banks, Bob Schieffer, Morley Safer and Chris Matthews.

Screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna.

Directed by Roger Michell.

Distributed by Paramount Pictures. 102 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Even if Morning Glory were not advertised as being from the writer of The Devil Wears Prada, that fact would not be hard to guess. The storyline is similar – young, adorable workaholic gets her big break in her dream job in New York City but must deal with a legendary-but-crotchety older co-worker who seems to have made it their goal to make her life a living hell. 

Morning Glory also shares Prada’s breezy manner, sharp writing, charming wit, and sophistication. 

Much of this lovable vibe is directly attributable to the film’s star. Rachel McAdams has worked hard to make it back into the A-List after her career took a brief downturn a few years ago. It’s easy to forget that from 2006-2008 her body of work consisted of The Lucky Ones, The Married Life and a supporting role in The Family Stone. She has since done some high-profile (if not necessarily good) movies bringing her name recognition back up, like The Time Traveler’s Wife, Sherlock Holmes and State of Play (which was very good, but a box office disappointment), however none of those titles were really the type which could break her career out. 

However, if there is any justice, this movie will cement her status as one of the biggest stars in Hollywood – perhaps even the Sandra Bullock of the new generation.

That statement does not necessarily mean that Morning Glory is a great film. It isn’t. It’s a good-ish romantic workplace comedy that can be occasionally a bit broad or sitcom-y and honestly has a pretty horrifying message about the relative importance of hard news vs. fluff pieces. However, for the most part Morning Glory works as light entertainment and is a fun time at the movies, as long as you don’t think about it too much. 

McAdams plays Becky Fuller – a career obsessed producer on a tiny New Jersey morning show who is downsized out of a job. After an odd “give up on your dreams” pep talk by her mom (Patti D’Arbanville) Becky strikes out in every attempt to get a dream job in New York City, until she is finally given a chance at the number four rated morning show on the fictional network IBS, a disaster of a show run by incompetents and perverts and which has the corresponding ratings. 

Becky knows that the show needs to get some gravitas to get an audience, so she decides to force the hiring of Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) – an old dean of the television news who has been put out to pasture by the network, but who is still under contract to them. 

The problem is Pomeroy is an old, crotchety guy who is too full of his own importance as an anchor to do morning news type of stuff like banter or cooking segments. They reach an impasse when Pomeroy’s news rep gives the show a shot in the arm, but he refuses to play along with what he considers “cheap stunts” that the show comes to rely on for ratings – stuff like making the co-host (Diane Keaton) dress up in a fat suit and try sumo wrestling or forcing the weatherman (Matt Malloy) to film himself in a series of death-defying stunts like parachuting out of a plane. 

And do you know what? Pomeroy is sort of right. Those things aren’t news and should not be on a news show. Morning Glory seems to fault Pomeroy for having journalistic integrity and refusing to pander. Granted, he does go a little too far in his stance – for example cooking segments may not be news, but they have long been a staple of morning talk shows – however his unwillingness to do stupid stunts on the air is not necessarily a bad thing. 

But enough of my soapbox on the state of TV journalism. 

Beyond the over-achieving McAdams, Morning Glory is populated by actors who are probably just a bit too good for what they are doing, but they sell the story with panache and make it even better than it should be. Particularly underused is Diane Keaton as an aging former beauty queen who has grown old as the co-host of a morning show and is now tired of the constant revolving door going on around her. She is funny enough with the role, but it isn’t a juicy part like co-star Harrison Ford was handed. Jeff Goldblum is another comic force that is oddly muffled as the frustrated network exec who decided to give McAdams a shot. 

(Semi-interesting trivia fact: This is the first time the Keaton and Goldblum have been in a film together since her breakthrough in Annie Hall in 1977 – though, granted, Goldblum only had one line in that film.) 

There is also a romantic subplot with Patrick Wilson which feels undercooked, and a bit tacked on. 

However, when Morning Glory is doing what it does best – being a light and frothy workplace comedy – it does a pretty damned good job of it.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2010 All rights reserved. Posted: November 10, 2010.

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