Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Roger Michell

Stars: Harrison Ford, Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson.

Morning Glory is a snappy comedy set against the background of a low rating morning television news show which is hoping to turn its fortunes around.

When Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) is sacked from her job as executive news producer at a third rate New Jersey television station she lands on her feet when she is offered the job of turning around the ratings of struggling morning show Daybreak on the independent IBS network. “Half the people watching have lost their remote,” her new boss tells Becky during their first meeting. “The other half are waiting for their nurses to turn them over.”

But she also has to deal with the show’s various prickly personalities and politics. One of her first acts is to bring on board veteran news journalist Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), whose career is currently in limbo. Pomeroy is also unflatteringly described by various people as “the third worst person alive”, but Becky has hopes that he is just what the show needs. Having won numerous awards for his hard-hitting news stories, Pomeroy is initially reluctant to take on the role, as he sees the show beneath his dignity. After all, he was wounded while covering the war in Bosnia and even held a wet cloth to Mother Theresa’s forehead during a cholera epidemic. Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) is the show’s veteran host and she is resentful of his presence.

As a parody of television news, it’s almost as if the producers have tossed elements from Murphy Brown, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, James L Brooks’ Broadcast News and Anchorman into a blender and extracted the best bits. Unfortunately writer Aline Brosh McKenna fail to develop this material far enough. I wanted more of the fractious, prickly on-air bickering between Pomeroy and his perky co-host, but McKenna fails to develop this potential entertaining angle. And its exploration of the blossoming romance between Becky and Adam Bennett (played by Patrick Wilson), a handsome news producer, is unnecessary and uninvolving. The film also rails against the “dumbing down” of news to the point where it is now entertainment and delivered in sound bites between commercial breaks.

McKenna’s previous scripts include the light weight romantic comedy 27 Dresses and the far more stylish and acidic The Devil Wears Prada. Morning Glory uncertainly straddles between the two styles, and ends up being a rather bland and formulaic rom-com that sadly lacks bite. However, director Roger Michell (Notting Hill, etc) is a dab hand with the formula and handles the material well.

McAdams, Ford and Keaton certainly throw themselves into the material with enthusiasm, reaping great rewards. There’s an element of self-parody to Ford’s performance here as the egotistical newsman. This is his best role for quite some time, and Ford rises to the occasion. When Pomeroy acerbically snaps at Becky: “After the career I’ve had!” it’s hard to distinguish if Ford is speaking about his character or about himself – the former box office champion of the ‘80’s and early ‘90’s who is now appearing in a light weight and fluffy comedy. More suited to heroic roles, Ford doesn’t do many comedies (Hollywood Homicide, Working Girl and Six Days Seven Nights are rare exceptions), but he plays the curmudgeonly Pomeroy well. His dead pan, droll style actually suits the tone of the film well. McAdams brings a lively energy to her performance as the eternally upbeat and career focussed Becky.

Matt Molloy has fun as Ernie Appleby, the goofy and beleaguered weatherman who is sent on a series of hair-raising experiences in an attempt to bolster ratings. Jeff Goldblum brings his usual dry wit to his role as the network’s demanding boss.

There are many laugh-out loud moments here and plenty of snappy one-liners, delivered with relish by the stellar cast. Morning Glory is a genuinely funny comedy, unlike the recent Due Date, which mistakenly valued a masturbating dog above real wit, interesting characters, clever dialogue and smart quips.



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