From director Roger Michell (Venus, Notting Hill) and writer Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada, 27 Dresses) comes Morning Glory, a funny, witty behind-the-scenes look into all the glory and ugliness of early morning TV. Rachel McAdams stars as a rising TV producer, who, after being laid off from her job, begins work at Daybreak, the fourth-place ugly sister of the Today Show. Faced with finding ways to raise the show's failing ratings before it is cancelled, Becky (McAdams) decides to bring together two disparate co-anchors, Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton), a Kathie Lee Gifford-type, and Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), a disgruntled hard news man, who has been waiting out his contract at the network after being fired from his last gig. As Patrick Wilson, who plays Becky's love interest, points out, Pomeroy is the third worst human being on the planet, which is a title he well deserves. Becky must navigate these two tricky personalities to save the show and her career before it is too late.
Similar to The Devil Wears Prada, which still stands as one of the best workplace comedies in recent years, Morning Glory hits all the right notes and keeps moving at a blistering pace for the entire film. Just as in Prada, the film focuses much more on the workplace environment and all its interconnected characters rather than on Becky being in a relationship against the backdrop of morning news. The latter we've seen a million times, the former not so much. Harkening back to great workplace comedies such as Broadcast News or in the TV realm Sports Night, Morning Glory manages to bring together a fun, complex and well balanced character ensemble.
While McAdams is solid, and definitely gorgeous in the role, her elders in the film, Ford and Keaton, provide enough diva to steal much of the show. Ford is convincing as a beleaguered and bitter Cronkite-like newsman; think the Harrison Ford we know and love, but without any smiling. The best sequences in the film may be Ford's wry blistering banter back and forth with Keaton, who clearly despises her scrooge-like co-host. Keaton is great as usual (yes, I will forgive her for Because I Said So), although I wanted to see more of her in the film, especially more one-on-one scenes with Ford. Patrick Wilson is also convincing and natural as Becky's new boyfriend, but just as Adrian Grenier must deal with Anne Hathaway's crazy schedule in Prada, Wilson finds his new girl tough to tie down.
Morning Glory is maybe not quite as tight as The Devil Wears Prada nor do the performances quite equal Meryl Streep's monstrous turn as Miranda Priestly, but regardless, this movie is definitely worth the watch. Provided you are not a curmudgeon like Ford's character you should be smiling through most of the film and will enjoy the ride. Also, given the slate of heavy dramas set to roll out in the remaining month and a half of 2010, Morning Glory should do well and provide a bit of needed levity.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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