Sunday, 20 March 2011
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson
By Alan Bacchus
Morning Glory comes from the director of Notting Hill and the writer of The Devil Wears Prada. But those factors weren’t the reasons I was attracted to this film. Instead, it was the fact that Roger Michell directed Changing Lanes, in which he elevated a humdrum script to one of the best thrillers-with-a-brain in the past 10 years. Of course, Morning Glory is not a thriller but a genre film with the potential to be elevated by the direction of a smart filmmaker. Unfortunately, Michell fails in this task, as he delivers only an adequate film while meeting the expectations of the genre.
This is not a traditional romantic comedy per se. But like The Devil Wears Prada, it’s a "career comedy." Here, our hero, Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams), is a young, ambitious career gal in the cutthroat "entertainment" business – in this case, morning television. She works at one of those saccharine morning shows that serve mostly to warn commuters about inclement weather and traffic jams. Yet behind the scenes, it's not so warm and cozy. When the unemployed Becky takes a job as the producer of the lowest rated morning show on the lowest ranked network, she finds herself up to her neck in complicated office politics, bloated egos and high-stakes pressure from network execs. Becky's big gamble is hiring aging former news anchor Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), now a drunken egomaniac with a superiority complex.
Despite the battling of egos between Mike and co-anchor Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton), Becky manages to lift the show from the doldrums of the ratings basement, making her program respectable both to morning show purists and upper-crust journalists, to whom Pomeroy feels beholden.
The love sub-plot with colleague Patrick Wilson is relegated to b-story insignificance, as it's clear Michell and McKenna want to tell a story about a strong, young woman making it in the fast-paced world of television in glamorous Manhattan. There isn't much of a curtain to lift in this area, as films such as Network, Broadcast News and Tootsie have already done this 20-plus years prior. That being said, Michell's fast-paced direction props up the predictable trajectory of the script higher than what would be expected from a lesser filmmaker.
Unfortunately, everyone is let down by the presence of Harrison Ford as Pomeroy. We all know Ford is well passed his expiry date as a leading man. And while he doesn't "lead" the show here, he's the main foil for Becky and is thus integral to the film's success. Ford's well-known public surliness aids somewhat in Pomeroy's characterization, but like most of everything Ford has done lately, there's no energy or life in the performance. It's phoned in via his star time machine. Ford's former glory, intensity, rogue charm and comic affability are completely gone. Films like these live and die by casting, and while this film isn't dead, it's inert and unmemorable.
Morning Glory is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment.