What’s the Story?

22 Nov

Morning TV news programs get a gentle tweak in Morning Glory. In the film, Rachel McAdams plays Becky Fuller, an ambitious television producer, who’s hired to breathe life into Daybreak, the fourth-place network morning show. Her solution is to hire gruff veteran newsman Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), who begrudgingly takes the job of sitting alongside the show’s longtime host, Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton), even though he wants nothing to do with the silly antics and lightweight stories. But when the show is threatened with cancellation, all must do whatever it takes to keep Daybreak on the air.

Morning Glory was written by Aline Brosh McKenna, who also penned the screenplay for The Devil Wears Prada, and there are plenty of similarities between the two films. For example, both feature a perky, go-getter heroine who puts work ahead of her personal life, and both feature winning performances by their lead actresses. In this case, McAdams deserves all the credit for why Morning Glory is enjoyable to watch, even when the rest of it isn’t. McAdams helps the screenplay seem better than it is. She’s playing such a peppy, high-spirited person — and she does it so well — that I half-expected Ford to bark at her the famous Lou Grant line, “You’ve got spunk!” (Instead, he tells her she’s got moxie.) But it’s true. After starring in Wedding Crashers, McAdams stayed away from the breezy, lightweight romantic comedies she was offered, and she held out for a decent one. I couldn’t help but think that if Katherine Heigl, who starred in another McKenna film, 27 Dresses, had played Becky, this would have been a much worse film.

Which is not to say that Morning Glory is a masterpiece, or even on the same level as Prada. The first half of the film is better than the second, and other than McAdams, none of the other leads have much to work with; they can’t save the one-note characters they’re playing (Ford especially). And, it should be noted, it’s hard to take a film too seriously when it’s centered around a television network with the unfortunate name of IBS. Yes, Becky saves the show and manages not to lose her boyfriend (Patrick Wilson) in the process. But the fact that she makes Morning Glory watchable is her real triumph. I’m giving the film a B.

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