Morning Glory

Rating:

Antics In the A.M.

Main Cast: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson

Director: Roger Michell

Morning Glory opens with Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) in full swing, producing a local morning show in New Jersey.  The typical morning combination of news, wacky weather and feature segments has her getting to work well before dawn and acting as the glue that holds together a whole lot of tired, grumpy people and the hundreds of little details that need to come together for even the most basic broadcast to be successful.  She couldn’t be perkier, she loves what she does and she’s ambitious.  When a turn of fortune finds her executive producing the lowest rated, most dysfunctional national network morning show on the air, she’s suddenly living a distorted version of her dream.  A really distorted version.  Daybreak is no Today Show.

Joining McAdams are Diane Keaton and Ty Burrell as Daybreak anchors Colleen Peck and Paul McVee.  Colleen has been there forever and is cynical and jaded, but she knows how to do her job and is justifiably skeptical that a youngster like Becky Fuller can pull their show out of the crapper.  McVee is a pervert.  When Becky realizes that the network has legendary newscaster Mike Pomeroy under contract she does everything in her power to pull him onto her show.  Harrison Ford plays the uber-curmudgeon with a massive chip on his shoulder, complete disdain for morning shows and the nagging problem of causing everyone he meets to hate him within minutes.  But he’s a huge name, a true broadcast news superstar and potentially the savior of Daybreak.  Even if only Becky thinks so.

Oh, there’s also Patrick Wilson as A Cute Boy.  Becky is A Cute Girl.  Hollywood dictates that they must date, so they do.

So many things save Morning Glory from being just another romantic comedy straight from the Hollywood pabulum pump.  First and foremost is the presence of Keaton and Ford.  They’re fabulous.  Colleen knows and understands morning television and is ready to embrace all it has to offer, she’s just never been given the chance.  Pomeroy hates her, hates the medium and hates himself.  When the two butt heads, the chemistry is delightfully acerbic.  Keaton is totally in her element – sexy, strong and afraid of nothing.  Ford is given the opportunity to really embrace a comedic role without an action component and he does a terrific job.  It isn’t a performance without flaws – his gruff is a little much at times, enough to be unbelievable – but it is for the most part funny and his timing is spot on.  He gets to be a little mushy, too – something that suits him as he mellows with age.

I could easily hate Rachel McAdams in this role.  Becky Fuller in the flesh would be my arch-enemy.  So perky.  Good Lord, so perky and adorably clumsy and filled with self-doubt despite being one of the most beautiful women alive.  And yet, I don’t hate her.  How is that possible?  Mostly, I think, it’s because writer Aline Brosh McKenna and director Roger Michell let her go over the top.  It’s a comedy, her hyperactive personality and super-cuteness is so extreme that it’s caricature.  As a result, when she settles down into a somber moment we really do love her and want her to succeed.  Becky Fuller as a whole character isn’t a real person, but in her moments she is able to give voice to feelings of joy, doubt and anger to which most of us can relate on some level.

McKenna and Michell also wisely make Morning Glory a comedy – not a romantic comedy.  The relationship between McAdams and Wilson plays a distant second to the dynamics of the morning show.  As such it makes for a nice break from the frantic chaos of the station without taking over and leaving us wallowing in just another stupid, unfunny romance.   Keaton and Ford star opposite McAdams, not Wilson.  An exceptionally wise decision, the one that makes the movie worth watching.

Overall, Morning Glory is a funny, fast paced comedy that plays well to the talents of all three leads.  McAdams gets to be cute, sweet and hyper, Keaton gets to be tough and sexy and Ford gets to be an old grumpus.  Add in the craziness of morning television and it’s a fun, light ride .  4 stars out of 5.

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