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By Preston Garrett · November 15, 2010
With the success of 30 Rock and old school flicks like Broadcast News and even Network (one of the all time best films ever made about television in general), it's no wonder that there's still a market for such fare, and watered down versions of this niched genre to boot.
We've seen movies like Roger Michell's Morning Glory before, across all genres. Films that capitalize on the success of more interesting, off beat, and sometimes even politically charged subject matter. For every Traffic there's a Spun. For every Pulp Fiction there's a Go, or 2 Days in the Valley. And for every Broadcast News or Network, there's now a Morning Glory.
Quickly, what the hell did Broadcast News and Network do for us in the first place? Network certainly taught us the potentials of broadcast television, in particular in the news format. In so many ways, it predicted the advent of reality television about 15 years before its palpable entrance to mainstream media (with MTV's The Real World.) Granted, Paddy Chayefsky and Sidney Lumet's 1976 masterpiece is an absurdist satire of morality, news production, and ratings, much like the incestuous and slightly goofball personalities that Broadcast News provided us in the 80s. Morning Glory certainly doesn't fall in that realm of headiness or quirkiness when it comes to intra-workplace relationships. Yet without either of the aforementioned films within the news media genre sphere, Morning Glory certainly wouldn't exist.
As you could have deduced by now, Morning Glory is about news media – the morning news program, the struggle for good ratings, the clashing of inflated news personalities, the tug of war between work life and home life (or the lack thereof), and the potential romances that can flair up in the morning newsroom. Though I've cited Network and Broadcast News as obvious influences for Morning Glory, know that if there's any tonal template to pinpoint, the film is much more reverent to the likes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, though it feels like the growth that the protagonist Becky (Rachel McAdams) experiences is trying to be more poignant than it actually is.
At the beginning of the film we meet Becky – the cute, eccentric, and charming producer of a local New Jersey morning news program. She's the all star of the news team – the one that brings everything together under any circumstances, any time. Her dedication is almost freakish, which would actually come off as slightly creepy if it weren't for the inherent charm that McAdams is able to project onscreen without any evidence of real "effort." She's certainly the anchor of the film, which has a troubled, lackluster plot that feels so run-of-the-mill and predictable, that it's a wonder that I stayed awake throughout the entire film. I credit it all to McAdams.
So quickly we see that Becky is fired from her local news job – budget cuts, lack of experience, and a few other reasons let us know that she's certainly capable of her job… she was more than likely just at the wrong place at the wrong time to fulfill her dream of being a news producer on the Today show. But Becky isn't let down (almost annoyingly so). She hits the pavement hard and lands a gig at the fictional IBS network on the floundering, embarrassing, archaically terrible morning show Daybreak. Antics quickly ensue as Becky tries to steer this dilapidated ship, full of stock personalities: the aging, egocentric morning news anchor (Diane Keaton), the beautiful idiot, the rapping weather man, the producer that shows you the ropes and seemingly has no personality other than to say "wow, good job kid," etc. It's so stock that it feels like you're watching a library of casting tapes from Congress's hidden Library of Stereotypes.
Anyway, we see Becky battle the head honcho of the network (Jeff Goldblum) – without better ratings, Daybreak will be cancelled for the cheaper TV real estate of syndicated soap operas, talk shows, and other crappy programming of the like. Filled with montages and plenty of awkward encounters with a hunky network segment producer (played by Patrick Wilson, an underrated actor, who unfortunately phones in his most paper thin performance I've seen), we see Becky inevitably make headway… but of course, it's just not enough.
Enter Harrison Ford as an old school news anchor from the era of Rather, Brokaw, and Jennings. As you could have guessed, he's grumpy, eccentric, and just plain hard to get along with – the topping on the stereotype sandwich that you just had to have.
Eventually, as you could have also guesses, Becky gets the crotchety Tom (Ford) come out of his shell. Becky, of course, is the first person in years who has given a crap about Tom in the first place, so there you go – you can fill in the rest with your imagination. I'll leave it a mystery as to whether the show is saved or not…
So yeah. Morning Glory is super predictable and subscribes to all the news broadcasts movies that we all know and enjoy. Minus Rachel McAdams' charm and the occasional clever banter between Harrision Ford and Diane Keaton – which is way too short lived for the greater good of the movie – there's no much there. Writer Aline Brosh McKenna simply got lucky with getting such a solid cast in place – the flatness of this story is so underwhelming without any clever stakes… I just yawn thinking about it.
Also, Harrison Ford. Love the guy, but I just don't know. Something seems off about him. That's not to say I don't love seeing him act in anything anymore (since he really doesn't that much anymore), but yeah. He seemed… weird. And it wasn't the character he was portraying. Just a general weird charisma that I don't even know was actually "charisma."
Long story long, Morning Glory wasn't the best, but in spite of what I've said above, it's certainly not the worst either. An enjoyable enough foray down stereotype and escapist lane that will serve as good fodder for those teen and tween couples who can't get into sold out Harry Potter screenings.
2 out of 4 morning yawns.