One of the hardest reviews for those of us in the media to write is, well, movies about those of us in the media. A predicament which couldn’t be truer about the workplace comedy, Morning Glory.
Which tends to mean that when you’re supposed to be laughing out loud about Rachel McAdams’ earnest, nervous wreck morning show news producer on the brink of a breakdown or threatened daily with the dreaded pink slip, those of us in the know more than we care to be, may more likely be cringing in the audience. Though Harrison Ford’s extreme caricature of the news executive from hell on the premises, where the devil wears aftershave, tends to cool things down quite a bit, and remind us that it’s just pretend.
Directed by Notting Hill’s Roger Michell and written by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada), Morning Glory stars Rachel McAdams as ditzy, aspiring television news programmer, Becky. She’s the kind of frantic workaholic who dashes out the door to the office clutching her briefcase, but forgets to dress in more than her underwear.
Dumped by her Jersey station just when she’s anticipating a promotion instead, Becky after endless searching finally lands a new position on the Manhattan morning show, Daybreak. A program with the distinction of possibly having the lowest ratings on the planet, and an audience that either needs a nurse to turn them over, or can’t locate their remotes.
Not deterred in the least and obsessed with perking up the show while always just a step away from being fired if she doesn’t, Becky barely survives the daily disasters. Including warding off the indecent advances of a female foot fetish anchorman, toning down the excessively bubbly when not bossy former Miss Arizona newscaster (Diane Keaton), and dragging out of retirement the resistant, grouchy legendary anchor Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) who really hates her bangs, in a last ditch effort to save the show from extinction.
Morning Glory sustains an uneasy balance between dredging up satire from the ludicrous featured content plaguing television morning shows – along with daily behind the scenes rampant ruthless rivalry – and striking a more serious tone when it comes to the deplorable dumbing down and tabloiding up of news in favor of infotainment in this country. And in contrast to McAdams breathlessly trying much too hard to please, both as a character and an actress, Harrison with his cool, calm and collected contemptuous air nicely holds everything together, while refusing to cave in with any inkling of deference, as Becky’s ‘bitch.’
Morning Glory is yet another mostly admirable addition to the growing trend in movies reflecting the real world, where characters are as likely to lose in employment as romance. But while the comedy leads audiences down a promising path of thoughtful contemplation through humor when pondering whatever the hell happened to the news, when arriving there the story seems too hesitant to be decisive about having any clue.
3 [out of 4] stars