By Roxana Hadadi
Rachel McAdams is adorable. Whether she’s grinning at a cute guy, seething at intolerable coworkers or dropping her cell phone like a klutz, she’s the full force behind “Morning Glory,” a kind of romantic-comedy-drama that looks at morning news shows and the hi-jinks that go on behind the scenes. Yes, “Broadcast News” took a more serious look at these same issues – egos, ethics, budgets, whether people want information or entertainment – in 1987, but it’s McAdams’s charm that helps “Morning Glory” go down easy.
That’s the thing, though: If you’ve seen any movie about workaholics, whether it’s “Liar Liar” or “Hook,” “Morning Glory” doesn’t really give its audiences much to think about. There’s some talk from grizzled reporter Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) about living life with an appreciation for your family and those around you, but the concept is such a part of our lives now that it’s not a surprising idea for viewers anymore. These are journalists obsessed with their jobs, committed to grabbing every story before anyone else does, and that doesn’t really change throughout the film. If you’re looking for some kind of spectacular character growth, that doesn’t show up – these people warm to each other and grow more comfortable in each other’s prickly, curmudgeonly ways, but if you’re expecting “Kumbaya,” don’t.
That sense of reality, however – the truth that not everyone always ends up best friends – is what keeps the film believable. “Morning Glory” begins by introducing us to Becky (McAdams), a social wreck who can’t stop checking her phone during dates and has worked at the same New Jersey morning show for years, getting up at 1:30 a.m. each morning to make it there by 4. But when the station gets a new senior producer, Becky’s out – and it doesn’t help that her mother isn’t supportive in the least. At 28, Becky’s mom says, her dream to work for “The Today Show” is “officially embarrassing,” an unfortunate effect of Becky’s dead father’s encouragement. The woman isn’t Mommie Dearest, but she certainly is harsh.
Undaunted, Becky keeps looking, sending out numerous resumes and constantly getting ignored. But a chance arises when the industry’s fourth-ranked morning show, “Daybreak” on the IBS network, calls in need of an executive producer – a job they can’t seem to keep filled because of low funding, how much the crew hates each other and a severe lack of morale. Of course, Becky takes it – and so begins much of the film’s conflict, over whether Becky can raise the ratings enough to please executive Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum, being enjoyably deadpan).
It’s hard to get ratings up, though, when Becky’s idol Pomeroy (Ford), whom she forces to co-anchor the show with former beauty queen Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) through a detail in his contract with IBS, refuses to help. In a world of stories about summer vegetables, children’s art and hot fashion trends – typical morning-show fare – the man who brags he saved Colin Powell from a flaming jeep, dabbed Mother Theresa’s forehead with a washcloth and has countless awards under his belt just won’t get involved, driving Becky to near-insanity with his noncommittal attitude. He’s angry and he’s old, and he certainly won’t allow some young upstart to make him say words like “fluffy” and do segments on celebrity news.
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