08 December 2010

Review: "Morning Glory"

During the 1990s Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford would have been the perfect pairing to sell a romantic comedy. It would be fair to say that neither have been in a great film in nearly a decade. Both veteran actors play supporting roles behind Rachel McAdams who has enough charisma to light up the entire screen. The film is directed by English director Roger Michell whose previous films include Changing Lanes (2002) and Notting Hill (1999), which may be Hugh Grant's only decent film since the brilliant Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). Morning Glory is a formulaic romantic comedy with very few surprises but it is McAdams who makes the film feel fresh. Rachel McAdams gained widespread recognition for her role in Mean Girls (2004) and showed great promise in Red Eye (2005) and The Family Stone (2005), which also starred Diane Keaton. Unfortunately she has been unable to make the leap to become a veritable leading actress, either with poor choices or a lack of great offers. I am not convinced that Morning Glory is the film that will catapult her into adult stardom, different from the teenage stardom she achieved with Mean Girls and The Notebook (2004), but it should prove to studios and audiences that she can carry an entire film. While Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton offer gimmicky performances, it is Rachel McAdams that keeps Morning Glory afloat and ensures that it is a film about personal perseverance and not simply a career woman being rescued by a man.

Becky Fuller (McAdams) is a television news producer who gets fired from her job at Good Morning New Jersey. She refuses to wallow in self pity and sends resume after resume out to different networks. In her desperation she takes an interview with Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum) who is looking to hire a new producer for his struggling morning show, DayBreak. Daybreak is the fourth (last) place morning show in New York City. Her first act as producer is to fire Colleen Peck's (Keaton) pretentious co-host Paul McVee (Ty Burrell). Becky is excited to learn that her childhood hero, Mike Pomeroy (Ford), is under contract to the network and he begrudgingly joins the show. As an established journalist he refuses to participate in any segment that he considers demeaning, which results in low ratings and Becky learns the network is considering canceling DayBreak. In an effort to gain more viewers she starts having Ernie (Matt Malloy) do his weather reports while performing wild stunts. Becky struggles to improve ratings with the icy relationship between Mike and Colleen and her dedication to her job threatens her blossoming relationship with Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson), who she met at work.

It is hard to believe that Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford had never met prior to filming Morning Glory. They could have made a film together instead of the dreadful Town & Country (2001) or Hollywood Homicide (2003). I will always love Diane Keaton because of her work with Woody Allen and Harrison Ford has a dedicated following from Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but neither actor has managed much of a career in years and I wish that two other actors had been given the roles alongside Rachel McAdams. McAdams is too talented to need their aging names to sell a film. Keaton was vastly underused in this film and was little more than a cantankerous morning news anchor while Harrison Ford offered a husky voice. Luckily, there is Rachel McAdams whose charisma saves Morning Glory from monotony. She makes the film enjoyable and gives you a reason to cheer for Becky to succeed. Morning Glory also offers a good soundtrack, though at times the music seemed to overpower the events on screen.

My rating: 3 stars out of 4.

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