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Movie Review: ‘Morning Glory’

November 10, 2010
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Let’s cut to the chase: I loved this movie.  It’s one of the best surprises of the year, and it’s a riot. The cast gels wonderfully, Rachel McAdams is adorable, Harrison Ford has his best role in years, and Diane Keaton is her kooky lovable self.

A superb cast is well utilized in this movie that takes us behind the scenes of a morning show called Daybreak. I have no idea how realistic the scenes about the production of a show are, but it is awfully fun to get a glimpse into the inner workings of a television show.

Almost every household has a morning show on in the background while the family bustles to get out the door, so the setting seems familiar and friendly.

Becky (Rachel McAdams) is a plucky, high strung television producer who has just lost her job working on a morning show in New Jersey.  She receives an offer from fictional network IBS to try to salvage a sinking ship of a morning show called Daybreak.

Daybreak consistently limps into fourth place in the ratings behind the other network shows.  Becky is warned that they lack everything they need for success-money, viewers, and  respect.

During her first meeting with the show’s crew she establishes her authority by firing the smarmy co-anchor (Ty Burrell, making a brief but memorable appearance) and answering a dizzying array of questions that are hurled at her in rapid succession.

Her next order of business is to find a new co-anchor for Colleen (Diane Keaton), an ex-beauty queen turned television personality. She pitches the idea of approaching Mike Pomeroy,  who formerly anchored the evening news, and has legendary status in the business.

He wants nothing to do with the show, and feels that it’s beneath him, since they cover very little hard news. He laments the dumbing down of the news with entertainment and other “fluff.”

However, Becky finds a clause in his contract that pretty much forces him to come onto the show, albeit digging his heels the whole way. Mike is caustic, demeaning, nasty and pompous on the set, so he is universally hated by the crew.

Can she really take this ragtag bunch and produce ratings gold?  Well, it’s a movie, so what do you think?

The entire ensemble cast plays to perfection. After watching his star fall with his last several movies, it is a particular delight to see the resurrection of Harrison Ford.  This is a role he was born to play.  Obviously, he has honed the ability to do cranky, but here he is a little playful and his brief emotional scene packs a punch. The big grumpy guy has still got it.

It is almost disarming how comfortable he looks on set, and it is not hard to imagine his character in the same breath as Walter Kronkite, Dan Rather, or Peter Jennings. A particularly funny scene has Mike tossing back a few with Chris Wallace, Morley Safer, and Bob Schieffer, and you absolutely buy it.

McAdams is just adorable, and her exuberance makes you really root for her. She is beautiful, but believable as an executive producer, and she handles the physical comedy well.  She really is a delight in the movie.  You can’t help but fall in love with her.

Diane Keaton is great, playing the diva who is threatened by the arrival of her new co-host. The two egos clash time and time again, trying to one-up one another and get the last word in on the live broadcast.

Patrick Wilson plays Becky’s romantic interest. He is the producer for a television show, so he gets her drive and determination.  He also used to be Mike’s whipping boy, so he has tremendous empathy for Becky’s new plight.

Jeff Goldblum is dry, and acerbic (just the way I like him) as Becky’s boss at IBS. Matt Malloy gets to play the “zany” weatherman, who is reduced to doing on camera skydives and riding roller coasters for ratings.

The film is well paced and well directed, though I did find a few continuity issues regarding Becky’s wardrobe distracting.

A lot of comparisons are being made to Broadcast News, but those comparisons are silly.  This is a light, airy comedy that is not trying to take itself seriously at all, and neither should you.

Broadcast News is beyond reproach as one of the best movies about the business ever made.  Although it had funny moments, Broadcast News took a much more serious tone, and actually had some relevant social commentary about the business.

Morning Glory does not take that direction, and that is fine with me.  You can draw your own conclusions about the shift away from news and toward entertainment, and how true journalists are a dying breed.  The fact is, that is reality today, and Morning Glory has a little fun at its expense. It’s cute, sweet, and utterly enjoyable.

Rating 4/5

Morning Glory is rated PG-13. Directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill) and written by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada.)

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