The ads for Morning Glory read like a cynical studio decision: “Let’s get those old people everyone likes…uh, Ford and Keaton, and we’ll combine them with this young new girl everyone also likes…
Anne Hatheway Rachel McAdams. We’ll make millions!” And you know what, despite such cynicism, it’s a great casting combo.
McAdams plays Becky Fuller, a sparky television producer whose laptop and cell phone are her only sustenance. When she gets the opportunity to work at a network morning news show, it is up to her to make it successful despite conflicting personalities and a studio with constantly malfunctioning door knobs.
What should draw people to Morning Glory is not the story, but what the cast does with the material. McAdams’ charisma is infectious, as she displays Fuller’s propensity for rambling and her love-of-the-job with abandon. You can’t help but like her despite the fact that she’s playing the usual mold for female characters – loveable kid in this instance, or contentious bitch in Keaton’s case. Though Keaton gets underused as Arizona beauty queen turned news co-host, Colleen Peck, her scathing wit makes her an equal to Harrison Ford’s grizzled journalist, Mike Pomeroy. Though Ford could have done better than growl his way through the whole picture, he has a presence that makes you respect him, which is exactly the nature of Pomeroy.
In a more effective way than 30 Rock‘s weekly installments, Morning Glory provokes an appreciation for the grueling work required to produce television, and the tools required to balance such work with a real life. Unfortunately the film doesn’t push this theme far enough. Fuller is introduced during a lunch date with a possible suitor, but bungles the meeting due to her inability to silence phone calls. This theme crops up throughout the film, yet is quickly shunted to resolution in a hasty denouement.
Which follows the main issue with the film, the last quarter: Characters suddenly become other people to suit narrative necessities, and the film resolves according to the romantic-comedy gestures of implausibility we’ve come to loathe. MINOR SPOILER ALERT, SKIP It is insulting to imagine that Pomeroy would betray his standards at the last second in the hope that Fuller would be near a television while she interviews for the job of a lifetime. MINOR SPOILER OVER Not to mention, the tension between trying to bring real news (Pomeroy’s argument) into a venue that vaunts itself for being morning entertainment never goes beyond an interesting, but ill-expanded conversation between Fuller and Pomeroy. Considering the current climate in television news broadcasting, it could have been used to build a compelling story. Tsk, tsk.
Yes, Morning Glory almost becomes another film in the last quarter and it doesn’t exhaust the great resources available, but with compelling characters and comedic sensibility that isn’t tired (Little Fockers anyone?), it’s hard to leave the cinema without an affection for the picture.