I knew going into “Morning Glory” that there would be some laughs. After all, the film’s name is a potty-humored penis euphemism. (Google “morning glory euphemism” if you’re in the dark.)
I knew going into “Morning Glory” that there would be some laughs. After all, the film’s name is a potty-humored penis euphemism. (Google “morning glory euphemism” if you’re in the dark.) What I didn’t expect is for it to rise to the occasion like it does in spots. Romantic comedies have been awful this year, and I expected this to be just as flaccid. (OK, I’ll stop now.)
As if the film’s trio of stars – Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford – isn’t promising enough, “The Devil Wears Prada” scribe Aline Brosh McKenna wrote the script and Roger Michell (“Notting Hill”) directed. Even pumped up with all that talent, the film ultimately goes limp (sorry, last one) in the third act, when it abandons the jokes and dialogue that made it watchable and turns all touchy-feely and predictable. That’s because the narrative is so paper thin that even a writer as successful as McKenna runs out of charm and hilarity.
It’s through no fault of McAdams, radiant as always as Becky Fuller, an eager and young (28!) executive producer charged with pulling the pathetic morning show “Daybreak” out of the ratings toilet. Her shot in the arm is hiring a once-distinguished broadcast journalist in Mike Pomeroy (a deliciously curmudgeonly Ford looking exactly like a veteran newsman). He’s fallen from grace and has has ended up in the chair next to Keaton’s Collen Peck, the lightweight co-host. While she is game to don a tutu or a fat suit to boost ratings, he won’t lower himself to do a cooking segment or say words like “fluffy.”
Of course things don’t go smoothly. Becky’s life is all work and no play. There’s a short-lived romance with another producer (Patrick Wilson), but work kills that, too. She is consumed with managing her two feuding anchors and appeasing her salty yet sarcastic boss (a scene-stealing Jeff Goldblum). A loose cannon, Pomeroy needs to be coddled by Becky, so much that she has to sleep at his apartment to make sure he gets to work the next day. Their relationship turns into a master/apprentice type arraignment with him resisting her every advance. Don’t worry, it’s not romantic at all, but their bond is the film’s big contrivance. Growing up, Pomeroy was her idol. She was starstruck upon first meeting him and enthralled after his first growl to her. This mentorship-from-hell plot string is rote and was done a lot better by George Clooney and Anna Kendrick in last year’s Oscar-nominated “Up in the Air.”
In fact, McAdams was in a similar situation as a naive young blogger to Russell Crowe’s seasoned journalist in the vastly superior “State of Play,” but these two movies are too different to compare.
Most appealing about “Morning Glory” is how it toys with the question of what is the definition of news and what do people want – hard-hitting pieces about politics, scandals and crime or softer and lighter features about entertainment, cooking and celebrities. It’s an age-old question that is batted around in media outlets everywhere and that debate, and the behind-the-scenes glimpse of a a news show, are the most interesting parts of the film.
But Michell and McKenna choose to focus on the relationship between Becky and Mike and whether she can soften him up and if she’ll realize that his life story is her cautionary tale. The pivotal scene where these questions are resolved is rushed and doesn’t feel genuine, nor did the tidy gift-wrapped Hollywood ending. It’s predictable, but the three leads and a supporting cast of smaller players do make the film funnier than it has a right to be, especially a short stint by “Modern Family” actor Ty Burrell, playing the smarmy “Daybreak” host Becky fires. In the end, though “Morning Glory” just isn’t ready for prime time.
Reach Dana Barbuto at email@example.com.
MORNING GLORY ( PG-13 for some sexual content including dialogue, language and brief drug references.) Cast includes Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson and Jeff Goldblum. Directed by Roger Michell. 2 stars out of 4.