* * *Director:
Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton
The trailer for Morning Glory
really didn't do it any favours. I believe my exact thought after seeing it for the first time was, "Not even with a gun to my head;" it just made it seem very generic and instantly forgettable. However, when I saw that it had gained a number of glowing reviews (including one from Stephanie Zacharek, who never likes anything
), I decided to give it a shot. I'm glad that I did because I liked it quite a bit and I hope that other people give it a chance, too - after all, this may very well be your only opportunity to hear Diane Keaton duet with 50 Cent on "Candy Shop."
Rachel McAdams stars as Becky, the perpetually sunny producer of a basic cable news show who loses her job and then gets an opportunity to try her hand as Executive Producer of Daybreak, the lowest rated morning news show on network tv. After quickly establishing herself amongst the staff at Daybreak by firing the male co-host, she sets out to replace him with her hero, Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), a grumpy but legendary newscaster currently under contract with the network but not working. She manages to get him on the show thanks to a loophole in his contract, but things get off to a rocky start. His prickly demeanor puts him at odds with Colleen Peck (Keaton), the female co-host, and his refusal to do anything but hard news makes Becky's job twice as difficult as it might otherwise be. Even worse, the show is on the verge of cancellation unless the ratings get a considerable boost.
All of that would probably provide enough story for a feature film (and, if that was the whole story, the film might actually be better, more focused), but there's also a romantic subplot shoehorned in. Shortly after landing her job Becky gets involved with Adam (Patrick Wilson), a producer at another show on the network. The attraction is instant but actually having a relationship proves to be difficult since Becky's job is not only her first priority but an all-consuming obsession.
Morning Glory is a film that survives largely on charm. Its construction is shoddy, relying on a few well-worn cliches and a surprising number of montages of McAdams walking or running as an upbeat song plays in the background in order to give the impression that the story is being pushed forward. Further, the romantic plot is problematic in that it's neither well-developed nor particularly compelling, and McAdams and Wilson don't have much in the way of chemistry. What ultimately saves the film is that McAdams is so great and has fantastic chemistry with everyone else, especially Ford. The story is much more concerned with Becky's relationship with Mike than her relationship with Adam - so much so that the big "break up" and "reconciliation" scenes that mark the story's crisis and resolution are between the former rather than the latter.
McAdams, as I said, is great and so is Ford. The film really plays to his strengths and a lot of the biggest laughs come simply from his reactions to the goings on around him. Keaton doesn't get a ton to do here but at least she gets to take a break from the hyper-neurotic character she's been stuck playing for pretty much the last decade. All in all, there's more good to the film than bad and though it's incredibly lightweight, it's still very enjoyable.