Roger Michell's Morning Glory, with script by Aline Brosh McKenna, is a sweet, sunny confection with an okay story about perseverance and determination, a really nice eye for detail and (mostly) whistling past graveyards of cliché, and strong performances from Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, John Pankow, Patrick Wilson and Matt Malloy.
McAdams is great as Becky Fuller, a hard-working producer for a local morning show in New Jersey. This is close to her childhood dream of working for the "Today Show," and word that the top producer is leaving creates a reasonable expectation that she might be moving up and closer to her personal career goals.
That doesn't quite pan out, leaving her a bit devastated and definitely looking for work. There's little moral support from her mom (Patti D'Arbanville), but she doesn't lose heart. She takes her inspiration from within, from her late father and his encouragement, from her own skills and talents and her encyclopedic knowledge of the history of network television.
The news chief for "IBS" (surely the greatest fake-TV-network acronym in movie history), Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum, funny, intimidating), sees something in her, however (and the price is probably right), so he puts her in charge of reviving the network's long-running morning show, "Daybreak," hosted by Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton, great) and Paul McVee (Ty Burrell, deadpan and pretty funny), which is in the ratings basement.
Becky doesn't really go in with a plan. Indeed, when she arrives, all she knows is that things aren't working, but she's been preparing for this job for her whole life, and she's going to succeed, whatever the obstacles. She has some weaknesses, too, however--including her encyclopedic knowledge of network television and a tendency to remind veteran talent of her youth and lack of experience in the network bigtime by telling them on first meetings exactly how long she's been a fan.
One of her first decisions is to attempt to corral Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford, perfect for the part and in the part), a sort of curmudgeonly, semi-retired Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather character still under contract with IBS, but not really doing much work on the air, to co-host her revitalized "Daybreak." So she makes him an offer he can't refuse. Of course, there are still a lot of things he can refuse.
If Morning Glory were to be pigeonholed and analyzed strictly as a romantic comedy, the romance might have to be pinpointed as between Fuller and Pomeroy. McAdams and Ford have a feisty and entertaining chemistry which takes up much of the film, leaving less space for the romance which does take place between Fuller and Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson, very good), a fellow IBS news producer. Luckily, both relationships develop believably and with a great deal of simpatico.
The movie is full of little "silent movie" moments--when a few shots, actions, reactions, expressions bounce off of one another sharply without the need for dialogue to understand the flow. In fact, I'd say this is one of the defining features of the film, what keeps it moving intellectually and cinematically. And they don't just occur between major characters, but often give the spotlight, and more character development to minor characters as well. John Pankow as a fellow "Daybreak" producer and Matt Malloy as Ernie the weatherman are particular standouts. This movie is full of skilled, joyful filmmaking that looks and feels easier that it possibly could have been.
Morning Glory is light, but not without seriousness, a romantic comedy, media commentary and character study without getting bogged down with too many genre chestnuts, or boring, obligatory plot. It's funny, breezy, surprising, fairly realistic and a good time all around. It's Harrison Ford's best in years and further cements McAdams's movie stardom.
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