Review of Morning Glory


Movie Review: "Morning Glory"

-- Rating: PG-13 (some sexual content including dialogue, language, brief drug references)
Length: 107 minutes
Release Date: Nov. 10, 2010
Directed by: Roger Michell
Genre: Comedy

Rachel McAdams gives a star performance in "Morning Glory" as Becky, an aspiring executive producer working for a small local network's morning show. When budget cuts force her out without a severance package, she doesn't lose hope in her career despite her mother telling her that it is embarrassing that she is nearing thirty and jobless. That kind of gumption is what endears her to the audience and makes the film a roaring success.

Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum), the president of IBS, hires her to helm Daybreak, their fading morning show. She knows she has to make sweeping changes, including firing the creepy co-anchor, leaving her with only Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) to do the show's segments. With a shoestring budget, she realizes the network is paying former news anchor Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to do nothing, so she forces him to become Colleen's co-anchor, or risk losing his lucrative contract. Rehearsals don't go well as the spiteful Mike shows his disdain for the fluffier parts of a morning show, such as making frittatas. He would prefer hard-hitting segments, but Becky doesn't see how wars and bullets can mix with omelets and menopause tips.

The awkward chemistry between Mike and Colleen lose the few viewers who are left, causing the ratings to take a severe nosedive. When a show is already in last place, there isn't much wiggle room before cancellation rumors start. Barnes calls Becky up to his office to discuss the ratings, or lack thereof, and confides that the show is being cancelled in six weeks. Becky knows that this is her last chance to be a successful producer, so she begs him to give her the six weeks to improve things.

She begins sending weatherman Ernie (Matt Malloy) out on increasingly crazy assignments like parachuting while filming his pained reactions. The audience slowly starts to come back as Colleen finally gets on board and begins interacting with the subjects of her stories instead of just reporting on them from a sofa. In fact, everyone is enthusiastic except for curmudgeonly Mike, who still wants to chase after the big story.

Becky is feeling the stress as the ratings inch up, but not enough to save them from the cancellation axe. Her stress manifests itself in her relationship with Adam (Patrick Wilson), who she falsely believes is embarrassed by her and her workaholic ways. They break up just as the show has a breakthrough, thanks to a tip Mike gets from one of his old contacts. With the ratings threshold finally reached, NBC and The Today Show comes calling.

The final twenty minutes of the movie deal with Becky's conflicted feelings over leaving her show for what is widely considered to be the best of morning television. Even more surprising is Mike's feelings about it, causing him to take drastic measures to show he wants her to stay.

The audience is meant to root for Becky, and McAdams' performance makes it very easy to do so. She gives the character a realistic gravity, while also allowing her some softer qualities. Sure, Becky works too hard and is a go-getter, but she can be very awkward and even occasionally shy, especially around men. Despite her shortcomings, she is tireless and eternally hopeful, which makes her easy to relate to, particularly for a worker who has been faced with a seemingly impossible chore.

Ford generally plays the curmudgeon very well, with this role being no exception. Mike's rough edges are razor sharp, but slowly and very subtly begin to soften. This is one of Ford's best and most nuanced performances that didn't include him having to carry a whip or wear a fedora. His chemistry with Keaton is great; Mike's disdain for Colleen may be a disaster for the fictional show, but it is a boon for the audience, since it provides some of the funniest scenes in the entire movie.

The screenplay was penned by Aline Brosh McKenna, who also wrote the scripts for "The Devil Wears Prada" and "27 Dresses," which helped establish Anne Hathaway and Katherine Heigl as bankable romantic comedy stars. Don't be surprised if "Morning Glory" does the same for McAdams, whose previous romantic films were of the more dramatic variety, like the excellent "The Notebook." Even with veterans like Keaton and Ford in the spotlight, this is McAdams' movie from the start, and she never relinquishes the reins, which is why the film works so well.

Rating: 3 out of 5