Morning Glory review

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Review Ron Hogan 16 Nov 2010 - 13:08
Morning Glory

A stellar cast, including Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton, line up for the romantic comedy, Morning Glory. Here’s Ron’s review…

After being fired from her local news morning show, producer Becky (Rachel McAdams) is left without a direction. Her dream, since she was eight years old, has been to work in the TV industry, and after finishing college, she found herself doing just that.

She sends out resumes, works the phones, and generally makes a nuisance of herself until she lands a network job. Unfortunately, it's not on her dream programme, The Today Show. It's not Good Morning America. It's the little-watched Daybreak, the fourth-place network morning program on IBS.

The show's veteran anchorwoman Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) is a diva. The lead male anchor is a hated, lecherous pervert until Becky makes an example of him on her first day. She's left with a gaping hole in her line-up that she cannot fill, until she pressures her boss, Jerry Barnes (an underused Jeff Goldblum) into letting her drag in the one person the network has on its staff without a position, Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), who either works for Daybreak or loses his $6 million dollar network contract.

He hates morning television, and believes the morning infotainment programme is the scourge that is killing the nation’s collective intelligence, but it's either stand up for his principals or pay his bills.

The task Becky is given is a simple one. Get Pomeroy to play along. Drag Daybreak out of the ratings basement and save the show. Oh yeah, and also somehow she's supposed to figure out a way to have a normal life and relationships while still dedicating herself to her career. Piece of cake!

Let's get down to brass tacks. What makes Morning Glory a step above every other one of the movies of this ilk is the fact that its cast is spectacular. Rachel McAdams manages to walk that fine line between perky and obnoxious with deft little feet, and it helps that she's absolutely adorable pretty much the entire time. She's got a very fun spirit and screen presence, without being implausibly chipper or “you go girl” about her career.

Of the veterans on board, there's no question that Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton acquit themselves very well in their roles. Harrison Ford, long a Den Of Geek favorite, has finally returned to straight comedy for the first time since Sabrina, and it really works well.

Ford's Mike Pomeroy has a very significant streak of Han Solo to him, thanks to his wit, unflappability, and general aura of coolness that Ford radiates, regardless of the circumstance Pomeroy finds himself entangled in.

Ford especially shines during the exchange Pomeroy has with his unwanted co-worker, Colleen Peck. As for Keaton, her comedy skills are beyond reproach. She and Peck, are game for anything, and she handles her various crazy morning reporter bits with that classic strained good humor where the fun and frolics don't go anywhere near the eyes.

I have to admit, while the romance between Becky and Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson) isn't the most interesting or captivating thing, it's not terrible. Yes, Morning Glory is still a romantic comedy, but the emphasis seems to be more on comedy than on the romance. Thankfully, the movie doesn't get bogged down by the B-plot at the expense of the really amusing stuff in the news room.

I guess high-quality romantic comedy is what happens when you put together two of the better people in the genre, director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) and writer Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada). Morning Glory isn't up to those lofty standards, but as romantic comedies go, it’s really entertaining.

It’s light in tone and consistent throughout, unlike a lot of romantic comedies that veer sharply towards melodrama. There's still some moments of hokum, but the movie rejects the urge to sharply alter characters in a convenient fashion during the third act.

Granted, the movie doesn't give you any real surprises, but it's a pleasing enough journey. McAdams, Keaton, Ford, and lesser-knowns from the newsroom (specifically John Pankow as producer Lenny Bergman and Matt Malloy's wacky weatherman Ernie Appleby) really raise the level of the material they're given.

I didn't expect a whole lot out of Morning Glory, and I was pleasantly surprised by the end result. It's a well-crafted, well-acted, and very funny film that gives a good account of the romantic comedy genre in general, and Rachel McAdams in particular. 

The interplay between Ford and Keaton makes Morning Glory worth seeing, even if you otherwise loathe romcoms.

4 stars

Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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