Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Working Hard For You -- Reflections on "Morning Glory" (2010)

"So, you see, when I was Han Solo..."

I hate morning news shows on television. The Today Show, Good Morning America, Good Day L.A.: they are all so fake, meaningless, and instantly forgettable. Anchors engage in stupid banter with syrupy smiles on their faces, but behind their eyes is always this sense they wish they were doing something more important.

While Morning Glory did not change my opinion of morning news shows, it most certainly softened my position. It's fun, entertaining, and while it doesn't have a lot of substance, it more than makes up for that with energy and a willingness to please.

Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) is a quirky, young, hyperexcited producer who has just lost her job in television. She gets a break when the IBS (anyone else thinking what I am when I read these initials?) network comes calling. They need a new executive producer to fix their laughing stock, Daybreak, whose ratings make it the lowest rated national morning show. Ever the intrepid gal, Becky dives right in, but finds that behind the scenes the show is in complete disarray.

Her first idea to fix it is to get a new male anchor to helm the news desk beside Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton), the jaded morning host whose greatest pride is having had her pap smear broadcasted on national television. Becky finds her new anchor in Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford). Mike, according to one character, is "the third worst person in the world."

And he seems to live up to his billing. Ford plays Pomeroy as an arrogant, pompous narcissist, who clings to his past successes as a "true news man" with the intensity of a child holding to a security blanket. He's the film's most interesting character, at once irascible, but surprisingly lovable. The fact that Harrison Ford's face looks like it's stuck in carbonite for most of the movie is only one of the reasons to love him so much.

Morning Glory is spirited and makes the most of its simple plot. It's not Broadcast News or Network, but I don't think it was meant to be. It wants to be light and fluffy, a celebration of a side of the entertainment media that is often maligned for its irrelevance. There's nothing wrong in that, and if it weren't for the fine performances of McAdams and Ford, the movie would be a complete failure.

This doesn't mean there's nothing to pick-on here. The romance between Becky and Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson) is predictable and annoying, but thankfully the filmmakers make it mostly a footnote. It also would have been a bit more fun to see more of Jeff Goldblum as Jerry Barnes, the head of IBS -- he just seems like he's telephoning in this role.

Nonetheless, Morning Glory is just like those annoying shows -- you won't find another movie this year that works harder to make you like it.

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