A film review by Craig J. Koban November 19, 2010
2010, PG-13, 110 mins.
2010, PG-13, 110 mins.
Becky: Rachel McAdams / Mike: Harrison Ford / Colleen: Diane
Keaton / Jerry: Jeff Goldblum / Adam: Patrick Wilson / Lenny:
John Pankow / Ernie: Matt Malloy / Becky's mom: Patti
Rachel McAdams is an effervescent cauldron of unlimitedly perkiness and dimpled adorability all throughout MORNING GLORY, and she – along with the rest of her well realized supporting cast – demonstrates how a zippy and charming performance can effortlessly override a film’s mediocre and cliché-ridded script.
Canuck-born lass is just a luminous force of nature here: the camera loves her
knee-buckling looks, her smile warms over the most tired and
perfunctory of moments, and she has a spunky vivaciousness that’s
borderline infectious. When
she’s on screen we are drawn to her and don’t look away: this is the
stuff that movie stardom is made of, and MORNING GLORY shows McAdams,
perhaps more than any other film of her career, as a most glowing star,
plays Becky, an insanely ambitious New Jersey morning TV show producer that
rises at 1:30 a.m. everyday just so she can begin her arduous day. The show she oversees
is small in stature and very little seen by the viewing public, but Becky is
prideful of her profession and takes it as seriously as any other big
news producer gig. One day
she is called into her boss’ office where she expects to be on the
receiving end of a life fulfilling promotion up the show’s creative
ranks, but she is crestfallen when she discovers that she is being let go
due to cutbacks and that a more experienced overseer has been hired.
She is not given much solace even with the kind words of support
her employer gives her, who refers to her at one point as the “best
producer he’s ever fired.”
Becky is a textbook optimist, so instead of wallowing in a pool of
self-pity and loathing she goes on the fierce offensive and sends out
resumes everywhere until she gets a biter in the form of Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum, satisfyingly
Goldblum-esque in his brief role), who is an executive of at IBS that
produces a rival morning news show called Daybreak. The show, alas, is
on death’s door and looks poised for cancellation at any time, so he is
looking to find yet another producer replacement in hopes on injecting
some much needed freshness and sass into the production in order to propel ratings. Becky is
inexperienced and somewhat naïve, but she nonetheless allows her inner
drive, fanatical confidence, and desperation to secure a job convince
her to take it…no real questions asked.
say that her first few days on Daybreak are exasperatingly grueling is a
gross understatement. Firstly,
she is really turned down by the terrible lack of funding for the program
(they cannot even afford new doorknobs on the office doors) and her initial
run-ins with the show’s anchors are anything but quant.
The male anchor (a hysterically creepy Ty Burrell) seems to display a fetishistic attraction to a part
of Becky’s anatomy (and I’m not talking the T or the A) that causes her to
fire him on her first day, and her first encounter with the diva-like
eccentricities of the show’s female anchor, Colleen Park (a wickedly
droll and letter perfect Diane Keaton) lets Becky know, in no uncertain
terms, that she does not like her or her new ideas for the show.
Colleen also seems miffed when it appears that Becky will have to
find yet another co-anchor to sit by her side on a morning basis.
does not take too long for Becky to have an epiphany: she once idolized
Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) as a Dan Rather-esque
nightly news icon that has long since left the head anchor desk at IBS'
most respected evening news program.
Unfortunately, Mike was unceremoniously terminated from his highly
prized anchor job and has long since retired, essentially doing very
little while still being paid via his large IBS contract.
Becky, being cunningly quick-witted, decides to read through his
contract and notices a loophole that essentially forces Mike to return to
IBS on Daybreak. Apparently,
if he were to turn down any IBS job offer then his payouts would abruptly
end. This really pisses off
the gravel voiced and cantankerous newsman, seeing as he feels that a
low-grade, fluff-centric morning TV show is far beneath his standards.
Yet, he begrudgingly takes the job, mostly because he likes money
Becky thinks that the legendary status of Mike mixed with the feistiness
of Colleen will make Daybreak an overnight hit, but it’s clear that
Mike’s gargantuan ego and vanity will not allow him to reduce himself to
the types of stories Becky wants him to do, not to mention that Mike’s
chauvinistic behaviour towards Colleen and her utter condemnation of him
makes the pair an unhealthy fire and gas mixture on screen.
Ratings soon take a nosedive and Becky is given an ultimatum to
rebound the show’s image and ratings in six weeks, or face cancellation.
Realizing that she needs a miracle, Becky pulls throws out the rule
book and goes for broke with some truly devious ideas that just may give
Daybreak the boost it needs to endure on network TV.
have already commented on the delectably bouncy spirit of McAdams in the
film, and there is rarely a moment in MORNING GLORY where she is anything
but captivating and winning. Her
impulsively eager-to-please boisterous gives the film a blustery momentum
that lesser young actresses couldn’t achieve, but it’s easy to
simplistically look at her friskiness and not notice how sturdy McAdams
really is here at playing the smaller, introspective moments.
I like how she performs to Becky’s unending cheerfulness alongside
showing her as a flawed, susceptible, and oftentimes naïve person in over
kind of intriguing in MORNING GLORY is that, at its
core, the script (by THE DEVIL WEARS
PRADA’s Aline Brosh McKenna) is really a romcom –
albeit a platonic one – between the aging and perpetually grumpy anchorman
and the new kid on the block producer and how they eventually come to
learn more about the news profession - and themselves - from the respective other.
Mike is inflexibly pig-headed when it comes to what he thinks is “real news”
and Becky, on the other hand, feels perpetually
blindsided by Mike's inability to take on a new career path.
It’s that generation clash between the old and the new that creates much of
the comedic intrigue in MORNING GLORY, even when the screenplay does go down
predictable paths with showing the icy and deplorably anti-social Mike
eventually thawing to Becky’s charm and resiliency.
– hip, hip, hooray! – how euphoric is it to see Harrison Ford rise
from the forgettable, mind-numbing banality of many of his recent roles (EXTRAORDINARY
MEASURES, anyone?) and fully emerge in one of his freshest performances in years as Mike Pomeroy?
Ford certainly is not getting any younger: At 68, he’s not handsome leading man material anymore and has lately underplayed played
roles with a such a slow, methodical, and raspy voiced timbre that, more
often than not, it appears that he’s phoning in his performances
with minimal effort. Some
critics have complained that Ford does not seem to acknowledge that he’s
in a comedy in MORNING GLORY, but they miss the boat altogether: he’s
not going out of his way to play up to the comedy – his obtusely
brooding and forcefully intimidating mug that never breaks its stone cold
and penetrating stare is precisely what makes Mike such a riot in the
film (like, for instance, how he snarls Dick Cheney's name at one point
through his clenched teeth). Watch how Ford
impeccably gives stern reaction shots to the ludicrousness of what
transpires on Daybreak or how he creates a sort of unforced chemistry with
Keaton where they display great fondness for despising one another.
It’s odd, because Ford does not so much reinvent himself here as
much as he just rejuvenates himself.
If you exclude the last INDIANA JONES
film, Ford has not been this
gratifyingly watchable in a role in nearly a decade. Plus, could any
other actor alive look directly at the camera with a sullen disposition
and say the term "fluffy" as dryly as him?
film, sadly, has issues, like a terminally boring and one-note romantic
subplot involving Becky and a fellow producer, played nicely by Patrick
Wilson, but in a woefully underwritten role (when will filmmakers truly
harness the gifts this actor displayed in films like HARD
CANDY and LITTLE CHILDREN?).
Comparisons between MORNING GLORY and other news-centric films like BROADCAST
NEWS and NETWORK seems both inevitable and perhaps a bit unfair, yet there
is a darker message that comes to the forefront in MORNING GLORY that BROADCAST
NEWS warned us all about: how flashy ratings trump substantial
intellectual pursuits in news broadcasting. It’s very
peculiar that Becky grew up worshiping Mike for the type of solemn and
intelligent newsman he was at the prime of his career, but she now seems
giddy about turning him into ratings puppet for the lame and trivialized news
stories he detests. That turn
for the Mike character – his acceptance of this reality – feels like
MORNING GLORY’s most force-fed and incredulous arc, but the film remains
a wonderfully zippy, funny, and inspired character-based workplace comedy,
which is refreshingly not a dime-a-dozen today.
And, yes, the unthinkable pair of McAdams and Ford elevates this
film at every turn, not to mention that playing a pretentious
asshole/windbag was just the thing that Ford needed to jumpstart his