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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rise and Shine for Morning Glory

Morning Glory = 3 ½ out of 5

Colleen Peck:  Excuse me, who’s going to say “good bye”?
Becky Fuller:  Oh, well that doesn’t really matter.  Mike, do you mind if Colleen says “good bye”?
Mike Pomeroy:  Well who do you think the public would rather hear from last?  Someone who’s one every broadcast award on the face of the planet, or the former Ms. Pecoima?
Colleen Peck:  It’s Arizona!
Something has been gnawing at me about this cutesy, romantic comedy, based around a morning news program.  It has nothing to do with its leads, who are all charming in their own ways, whether it be Rachel McAdams bubbly, yet spunky personality, or Harrison Ford’s ability to play bull-headed and grumpy (yes, he’s “acting”) for comedic effect.  It also does not have anything to do with the story, which is a pretty standard script, delivering a good amount of laughs, before settling into familiar plot territory.  No, what is gnawing at me has to do with how strangely well made this film is.  Maybe that has to do with J.J. Abrams having a producer’s credit on this film, but I was quite impressed with how this simple story managed to be so effectively put together.  All that being said, what you have here is a pleasant romantic comedy with enjoyable performances.  It’s nothing special, but the talent involved doesn’t hurt.

McAdams stars as aspiring news producer Becky Fuller.  Becky has just lost her job as producer for a small morning show in New Jersey.  After putting her resume out there for the other big cities to see, one of the network bosses at IBS (yep, this film went there), Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum), hires Becky as an executive producer for the failing morning show DayBreak, based in Manhattan.  DayBreak features host Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) and a revolving door of co-anchors, along with a crew who all do what they can, but have not yielded good ratings for the network.  Being the optimist that she is, Becky is looking to shake things up by tackling the show’s problems head-on.  Her first big decision, bring in a new anchor.

Cue Harrison Ford.  Ford stars as Mike Pomeroy, a veteran news anchor, who has won every TV news award possible and has quite the career behind him.  Currently he is coasting by on a contract, but Becky manages to twist his arm and bring him aboard the show as co-anchor.  However, Pomeroy does not buy into today’s “popular” news stories, and refuses to really become involved with anything that he does not deem important (basically Ford plays a big grouchy-pants).  This of course clashes with Colleen’s way of doing things, which basically means she has to smile her way through everything, while battling with Pomeroy off camera.  Becky has a lot to do if she is going to save this show, but at least she has a new admirer in the form of the handsome newsman upstairs, played by Patrick Wilson.

Adam Bennet:  Congratulations, you just hired the third worst person in the world.  So now is a good time for you to take up drinking.
Becky Fuller:  Who are the other two worst people in the world?
Adam Bennet:  Oh, Kim Jong-Il and Angela Lansbury.  She knows what she did.
It is always nice to see Ford on the big screen.  Regardless of how unengaged he has seemed as of lately, he still has a natural screen presence that speaks to the massive amount of charm he can still bring.  In this film, Ford actually does seem quite comfortable.  He is nothing but a curmudgeon throughout, but he does it very well, and gets all of the film’s best lines.  Keaton is fun too, although she is pretty much on the sidelines for most of the movie.  The best work easily comes from McAdams, who does everything that a role like this requires.  Becky is a career woman, looking to be great at what she does and works hard for the money, so hard for the money.  McAdams has the right kind of chops that imbue the character with charm, spunk, and enthusiasm, but never overplays the role.  I was also surprised to see how much of a gifted physical comedian she is.  And of course, she is very easy on the eyes.


The film’s story is okay.  It was scripted by Aline Brosh McKenna, who previously wrote The Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses, among other similar titles.  The film certainly does not try to examine its subject matter too closely.  This is no Network or Broadcast News, nor is it silly (or as hilarious) as Anchorman.  No, this is actually a mix of buddy comedy and romantic comedy.  The relationship between Becky and Mike is the heart of this film, which is hammered on way too hard come the end of this film, but is still all the sweeter for it.  You then also have the subplot involving Becky’s love live with Wilson’s character, but that is pretty much filler for those needing that romantic comedy portion to better ease all of Ford’s grumpiness.
Mike Pomeroy:  I’m not saying the word “fluffy”.
Getting back to how I started off, I don’t know if it was Abrams or director Roger Michell who is responsible, but the film surprised me from a technical standpoint.  I was engaged throughout because the film is fairly well handled, pacing-wise, but strong on conveying a sense of style, keeping me visually engaged.  This is an element that clearly stood out to me enough to base a lot of my praise around, and it probably will not be acknowledged by many who see this film, but I find it true nonetheless.

So this film is just fine for many reasons.  It is well made.  All of the actors rise to the occasion and do good work here.  The lead performance by Rachel McAdams is particularly noteworthy, as is the relationship between her and Ford.  The plot falls into a lot of familiar ground, but the film still gets by based on its simple charm and nicely handled humor.  And now for the weather.
Colleen Peck:  I suppose you don’t think I have standards.
Mike Pomeroy:  Sure you do.  When you got your pap smear on air, you wore a silk robe.  Classy touch.

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