Review: Morning Glory
PLOT: Becky (Rachel McAdams), a young, high strung TV news producer, is hired to revitalize a struggling morning chat show. In order to give the show a higher pedigree, she hires a snobby veteran news anchor, Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), who immediately clashes with co-host, Colleen Peck (Diane McAdams). Meanwhile, Becky struggles to balance a burgeoning relationship with a colleague (Patrick Wilson), with her demanding, hectic work schedule.
REVIEW: The key to MORNING GLORY’s success is clear from the first scene, where Becky has a blind date, but can’t stop checking her blackberry. She’s high-stung, operates like she’s on a constant caffeine high, and is completely oblivious to how rude she’s being to her date. Yet, with McAdams playing her, she’s never anything less than adorable.
Now, imagine Katherine Heigl in the same role, and then imagine me bolting for the exit, because that’s would have happened. In many ways, MORNING GLORY feels like the film that’s going to finally signal McAdams’ arrival as a full-fledged movie star. This is her DEVIL WEARS PRADA, with this not so coincidentally sharing a screenwriter, Aline Brosh McKenna, with that film.
This is really the role McAdams has been building towards ever since breaking out in THE NOTEBOOK/WEDDING CRASHERS five years ago. Since then, she’s had the occasionally sleeper (RED EYE, THE FAMILY STONE), but mainly she’s been appearing as window dressing in big movies like SHERLOCK HOLMES. Of all the young actresses to come along over the last few years, McAdams feels like the one that’s got the best chance to become the next Julia Roberts, and nowhere is that clearer than in MORNING GLORY.
It helps that this film teams her with hotshot producer J.J Abrams, and director Roger Michel, who also directed one of Roberts’ best vehicles, NOTTING HILL. Since then, he’s mostly focused on edgier fare like the underrated CHANGING LANES, ENDURING LOVE, or VENUS. This is his return to the mainstream.
MORNING GLORY is essentially a riff on the James L. Brooks classic, BROADCAST NEWS. McAdams’ neurotic producer has more than a little in common with Holly Hunter in that earlier film (where she also played a neurotic producer). Now, MORNING GLORY is no BROADCAST NEWS, as this is a far more commercial, less edgy film. It’s a little too pre-occupied with hitting all the rom-com beats to transcend genres (after the fourth pop music montage, I started to tune out a bit), but for the most part it’s a rock solid chick flick, and VERY watchable.
Other than Adams, the film also marks a comeback of sorts for Harrison Ford. Now, I’ll be the first to admit- the old Harrison Ford is long gone. As far as I’m concerned, fifteen years of garbage is not going to be erased by one decent turn in a rom-com, but this is a step in the right direction. For the first time in years, he seems fully engaged with the material. I still don’t think he’s much of a comedian (his comedies have ALWAYS been disasters), but he more or less plays straight man to McAdams, and he’s very convincing as a grumpy anchor.
He also has wonderful chemistry with Diane Keaton, but sadly, Keaton’s a bit underused- which is a shame as she’s a good match with Ford, and still as sharp a comedienne as she was making movies with Woody Allen thirty years ago. There’s also a few solid character roles, including a cameo by MODERN FAMILY’s Ty Burrell, as the creepy anchor who gets sacked in favor of Ford, and a gem of a role for John Pankow, who is immortal thanks to his part in TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A (still the best car chase over filmed). Jeff Goldblum also pops up, essentially playing a parody of himself (hey, it worked for Christopher Walken).
The only time the film kinda falls flat in the unconvincing romantic subplot with Patrick Wilson, but then again- you can’t have a rom-com without the rom, but I didn’t find her and Wilson to be a great match. Something just seemed off, and he seemed a little too square for someone like McAdams’ character in this film; who seems better suited for a more unconventional leading man. It also could have been a bit of a sharper critique of the pandering nature of morning talk, especially in light of shows like THE VIEW, but I guess this isn’t that film…
Minor flaws aside, MORNING GLORY is still well-worth seeing for McAdams, who’s charming, adorable, and most importantly likable. I have a feeling this may be the start of a one-way ticket to mega stardom for McAdams, provided she keeps getting the right material. MORNING GLORY is a perfect vehicle to take her to the next level. While the film’s still short of being exceptional, it’s still a very well-crafted comedy, and a perfect date flick.
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