Friday, November 12, 2010

Love: Morning Glory

As a film, Morning Glory is the equivalent of your network morning news program.  It's a shiny piece of overproduced fluff to perk up your waking moments, give you something to focus on, and lure you in while you search for that jolt of caffeine.  It's not a serious film, it's frothy entertainment with lots of star power, human interest, and big smiles.  That said, despite its lack of gravitas or realism, Morning Glory is a bright, unsinkable comedy that manages (where so many others fail) to actually be funny without consequence.  There's no caveat to the humor; like a morning variety program, there's a little something for everyone here.  You want your physical comedy?  Check.  You want your dry sarcasm?  Harrison Ford has got it for you.  You want your bantering neurosis?  Yeah, you do realize Diane Keaton is in this movie, right?  Check.  You want Jeff Goldblum (what?  Goldblum is hilarious. All you have to do is look at Goldblum looking at someone else and that's comedy gold)?  Check.  Morning Glory is that rare film that's positive and idealistic without the sugar high, that flaunts its dark and bitter side in a way that's endearing, and that manages to somehow keep you interested in the silly, frustrating little trials of its chipper lead.  Don't get me wrong, the film is far from inspired.  Rachel McAdams could never trump Faye Dunaway in Network, and Morning Glory plays like a less somber Broadcast News filtered through the more cookie cutter pieces of The Devil Wears Prada.  Yet, what it lacks in satirical edge, it makes up for with the irrepressible charm of its actors, and by not sinking too deeply into the dregs of "career girl" romantic comedy.
Rachel McAdams stars as Becky Fuller, an excitable, oft over-perky, generally awkward young woman who lands a job as executive producer on the failing morning program Daybreak.  The show is on the verge on being cancelled, and with good reason.  The studio is in disarray, the hosts suffer from anxious delusions of grandeur, and they've been repeatedly scooped on every news story or guest star for seasons.  Fuller's can-do attitude is put to the test as she finds herself bending over backwards for her new host: Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) a fallen hard-news titan who is roped into the program via contractual obligations.  Pomeroy is battle-hardened and tough.  His megalomaniac pretensions (not to mention the particulars stipulated in his 10-page rider) prevent him from stooping down to cover stories he deems unworthy, or to interact with those not up to his standards.  It may not be the performance of a lifetime, but it's Ford's best role in years, and he plays Pomeroy to a tee.  He grimaces, grunts, glares, curses and sneers at all the right moments;  we believe him as a pompous, diva Dan Rather.  We suspect that he may have similar opinions about starring in this little comedy.  To offset the absurdity of his seriousness, the divine Diane Keaton successfully shirks her repeat aughts role as family matriarch to play opposite him as a second, put-out news diva.  He thinks she's ridiculous, she thinks he's the most obnoxious, crabby individual on the planet, you know the drill.  The dynamic is nothing new, but Ford and Keaton are seasoned professionals with a deadpan rapport that's rather delightful to watch.  The biggest shame when it comes to casting is that ultimately Keaton is underused.  She never quite gets her chance to step in and up, though from all appearances it would seem that a movie about Ford and Keaton, minus McAdams, would have worked just as well.

Still, Morning Glory is a simple, successful entertainment.  It hits enough of the right marks to make it a satisfying trip to the theater and it never panders to the Heigl-tested devaluing of our lead character's identity via the all-important romantic entanglement (don't worry, we're not drifting that far from the mold, Becky's boyfriend is there (as Patrick Wilson), but he's on board with her and the chaos).   The material is handled with a light touch and delivered by deft hands.  Ultimately, Morning Glory is quite simply likeable.  It's the pretty girl in class with the 4.0 GPA and the good nature.  You can try and hate it, but really, there's just not much to despise. 

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