Only mildly charming, “Morning Glory” is an innocuous, overly familiar romantic comedy set in the workplace. As penned by Aline Brosh McKenna and directed by Roger Michell, it tries too hard top be smart and sexy in its depiction of one working girl’s road to success and first taste of victory.
Aiming to appeal to a two-generational audience, the film stars Rachel McAdams, as well as the vet stars Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton, both well into their 60s. It’s a testament to the power of the older stars that when they’re on screen, you watch them.
By now there have been so many comedies (and melodramas) set in and around TV stations that “Morning Glory” is bound to suffer with better movies of the species, such as James L. Brooks’ “Broadcast News.”
Brooks’ 1987 film made a star out of the then unknown stage actress, Holly Hunter. McAdams is known to the public but she has never carried a movie by herself; Ryan Gosling was instrumental in making “The Notebook” a major hit. I doubt whether “Morning Glory” will solidify her stature as a bankable mega-star.
In “Morning Glory,” McAdams plays local news producer Becky Fuller, a reasonably ambitious professional who has finally landed her dream job in the BigCity, overseeing the national morning news show “Daybreak.”
As expected, the road to success—or simply survival—is full of obstacles and problems. Almost from the get-go, what seemed to be a dream on paper threatens to become a nightmare.
Personality is not the issue—Becky is blessed with the necessary spunk, grit and skills for the job. But how does she “handle” the legendary Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), the cranky, arrogant, uncooperative anchorman, who turns out to be her biggest problem, though in a peculiar way he also represents her only hope to turn around the fate of a news program that occupies the bottom in the ratings system.
Indeed, when Becky arrives at “Daybreak,” even the network has given up on the downward-trending show. The program has developed the negative image of “eating up and spitting out” the most seasoned producers—and Becky lacks any national news experience.
Aware of her limitations (but also potential), Becky sets in motion a battle of wits by trying to do something really new: merging the gruff, self-serious style of former evening newsman Pomeroy with the babbling banter and confidence of long-time morning host Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton). Predictably, the new gamble leads to a clash of egos. The diva-like celeb Pomeroy feels she is above doing any weather, gossip or cooking.
Complicating matters, and not neglecting the heart, “Morning Glory” also deals with Becky’s struggles in her private life, namely how to cultivate and maintain her blossoming romance with a handsome fellow producer, Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson).
As scripted by Aline Brosh McKenna (“The Devil Wears Prada”), the film begins to go wrong and really show the seams, when it adopts a facile, unearned view of the American version of hard work, mobility, and success. Thus, the more Becky faces off with the cynical and the jaded, the more she begins to believe in herself.
In due course, Becky discovers what countless American heroines have discovered before her, that no matter how difficult and impossible your co-workers are, anything and everything is possible if you just put your heart into it—if you believe in yourself.
This is a step down for scripter McKenna, whose writing is not sharp or witty enough to sustain interest in sitcom-like situations. The comedy should have been nastier and faster, just as "Devil Wears Prada," was, and I'm surprised that energetic producer J.J. Abrams has not exercised a firmer control over the proceedings.
Considering the slender, formulaic plot, the movie overextends its welcome by at least 20 minutes. In the end, "Morning Glory" is just another minor and harmless romantic comedy, lacking energy and bite.
Unfortunately, the comedy never takes full advantage of its star power, which is a shame, when you have skillful actors like Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton who are capable of delivering as bright and fast a banter as Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn did in their George Cukor or George Stevens comedies ("Woman of the Year," "Adam's Rib," "Pat and Mike").
Speaking of Katharine Hepburn, this “Morning Glory” should not be confused with Hepburn’s 1933 theatrical melodrama of the same title.
Becky Fuller Rachel McAdams
Mike Pomeroy Harrison Ford
Colleen Peck Diane Keaton
Jerry Barnes Jeff Goldblum
Adam Bennett Patrick Wilson
Lenny Bergman John Pankow
Ernie Applebee Matt Malloy
Becky's Mom Patti D'Arbanville
A Paramount release of a Bad Robot production.
Produced by J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk.
Executive producers, Sherryl Clark, Guy Riedel.
Directed by Roger Michell. Screenplay, Aline Brosh McKenna.
Camera, Alwin Kuchler.
Editors, Dan Farrell, Nick Moore, Steven Weisberg.
Music, David Arnold; production designer, Mark Friedberg; art directors, Kim Jennings, Alex DiGerlando; costume designer, Frank Fleming; sound, Tom Nelson; supervising sound editor, Warren Shaw; visual effects supervisor, Ivan Moran.
Associate producer, Lindsey Weber.
Assistant director, Michael E. Steele.
Casting, Ellen Lewis, Marcia DeBonis.
MAA Rating: PG-13.
Running time: 110 Minutes.