I’m guessing that Morning Glory won’t figure too highly on the Tomatometer – it’s not particularly substantial, despite trailers that suggested it might a slightly less deranged Network for morning shows in the 21st century [with a dash of romance thrown in]. What it is, is a light, fluffy comedy that deals with a workaholic morning show producer who loses her producer position on an early, early, early [4 a.m.] morning show on a cable network that has no money to speak of and finds a job with the lowest rated morning show on any network – with a little romance thrown in.
Through sheer persistence, Becky [Rachel McAdams] manages to land a job on a network morning show. Of course, it’s the lowest rating of the network morning shows, on the lowest rated network period. Her enthusiasm and perkiness win over the net’s cynical honcho, Jerry [Jeff Goldblum], who pretty much gives her the job in spite of himself.
In an elevator, she meets Adam [Patrick Wilson], a producer on a more respected magazine show. In the same elevator, she meets her idol, legendary newsman [think Dan Rather] Mike Pomeroy [Harrison Ford] and proceeds to go all fangirl on him – much to his apparent distaste. Her meeting with her new show’s co-anchors Colleen and Paul [Diane Keaton and Ty Burrell] goes even less well.
Then, in her first morning meeting, she seems overwhelmed by the information and questions flying at he, but the joke is on everyone else. She snaps off a series of replies that gets everyone’s attention. Then she fires the sleazy co-anchor who’s been floating for a long time anyway.
When she finds a loophole in Pomeroy’s contract, she effectives blackmails him into taken the now available co-anchor spot on Daybreak – where he promptly refuses to do puff pieces, or say the word ‘fluffy.’
McAdams shines as the kind of news junkie/workaholic who always has one eye on the nearest TV screen and can’t get through a date with taking at least one call. Her energy and attitude, though, are so upbeat that we never give up on her – even as she’s on the verge of a relationship that she never sees coming because her ‘radar’ is so bad in that area. Maybe it’s the dimples…
The romantic arc is underdeveloped, but we accept the quick strikes with which it’s drawn because McAdams and Wilson work well together – and because her dedication to her job [even when it seems Daybreak is headed for cancellation] is so real. Surely, given the opportunity, her dedication to a relationship – once she actually realized she was in one – would be the same.
Harrison Ford should do comedy more often. His gruff, snide Pomeroy is a lot of fun to watch as he duels with Becky over his perceived dignity and professionalism. The resolution of that character arc is beautifully set up and rewarding.
In the end, though, it’s Ford and Keaton’s ‘banter’ that kicks Morning Glory out of the realm of the nice, the fun, the average. Mike and Colleen feel nothing but malice toward each other for most of the film – and that gives the film enough bite to elevate it a bit above the usual.
Attention to detail certainly helps add to Morning Glory’s verisimilitude. From the morning meetings to the actual behind the scenes goings on, the film nails the reality of producing a morning show.
Mostly, though, Morning Glory is the story of Becky’s efforts to turn around the ratings on Daybreak and the way she builds a family from the grating, bickering cast and crew that she finds when she starts.
There’s no grand message here; no attempt to say stuff. Aline Brosh McKenna’s script leans more to the laugh than the character beat, but does give us enough character beats so that we get to know the characters well enough that we know when to laugh. Roger Michell keeps moving at a frenetic pace – especially when Becky is in full operation mode – that the script’s weak spots [like the lack of development in the Becky/Adam romance] are carried by the actors’ chemistry.
Morning Glory made me laugh a lot. Even after analyzing why, it still does,
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Photo by Macall Polay – courtesy of Paramount Pictures.