Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Morning Glory (2010)

I don't know if "interesting" is how I would describe this.
I'm not a big fan of romantic comedies and, by "not a big fan," I mean that I would destroy them all, if only they hadn't hidden parts of their soul in a bunch of horcruxes.  Sorry, I've been re-watching wizard movies to amp up for the new Harry Potter this weekend.  Anyway, I dislike most comedies and hate most romantic comedies.  Morning Glory dips its toe in both waters, which sounds like a recipe for Brian-hatred.

Before I go on, I would like to point out that this movie appears to be the second film in recent years to reference the band Oasis.  Ryan Reynolds made Definitely, Maybe in 2008 (the band's 1994 debut had that title) and the early promotional posters for Morning Glory looked like this:
Oasis's second album is also called (What's the Story?) Morning Glory.  None of this is important, of course.  I just wanted to point out a small pattern before some moron decides to derail their career with a pompous, coked-out movie called Be Here Now.
Just because we can hear you doesn't mean we're listening.

Anyhoo, Morning Glory is about plucky morning news producer Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams).  Becky lives and breathes for her job, but she is fired from her gig at a local station for unclear, corporate-related reasons.  She bounces back, though, by being hired by a network morning news show, DayBreak, that airs nationally.  That would be the best rebound in history, if DayBreak wasn't the consistent and definite last-place show in its time slot.  What's a plucky young businesswoman to do?  First, she weathers a harsh whirlwind of pre-preemptive criticism from one DayBreak co-host, Colleen (Diane Keaton).  Then she fires the other co-host (Ty Burrell) for work ethic and creepy sexual fetish-related reasons.  That leaves Becky with a last-place show that is short a co-host.  As luck would have it, the station has legendary news correspondent Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) under contract, but no projects for him to do.  What luck!  As perfect as it would be to have Mike Pomeroy --- THE Mike Pomeroy, Mr. Serious Newscaster --- trade vacuous small talk with Joey Lawrence or whoever the hell else usually pops up on these programs, it turns out that Mike doesn't want to do anything except "real" news.  The animosity between Becky and Mike only gets worse when she starts having the cast do stunts, like broadcast the weather while on board a roller coaster.  Do you smell a conflict?  I smell a recipe for guffaws!
If not guffaws, then maybe a few senior moments?

The cast in Morning Glory is surprisingly (to me, anyway) solid.  Rachel McAdams is good as the hard-working and earnest lead.  I wouldn't say that she has great comic chops, but she is certainly likable --- and that's before she prances around in her panties.
Apparently, this is from a Morning Glory photo shoot.
Her romantic lead in the film is thankfully not Harrison Ford.  Instead, the part is played by Patrick Wilson, who always strikes me as a charisma-free version of Josh Lucas; he's fine here, but his character is almost comically understanding of Becky's work obsession for a character that is supposedly looking for a serious girlfriend.  Harrison Ford is the co-lead in the film, and he gets to frown and speak in a gravelly tone of voice.  I didn't particularly like his performance here --- I dislike when Ford tries to be gruff --- but it fit the character.  I didn't find him particularly funny, though.  Diane Keaton was underused for someone with her comedic film experience.
...but she did get to live out her lifelong dream on the set.
The rest of the supporting cast was all fine, but nobody really stood out, aside from Ty Burrell's ridiculous (and short) performance.  Jeff Goldblum did a good Jeff Goldblum impression as Becky's boss, John Pankow revealed what happened to his character from The Secret of My Success, and perennial TV and movie weenie Matt Malloy played a fairly weenie-ish weatherman. 

I didn't particularly like this movie, but it certainly wasn't the fault of the actors.  I just didn't like the story.  It felt obvious in parts and emotionally manipulative in others.  When Harrison Ford's character does something that seems odd and not at all mean, you can bet that the act will be revealed to have a deeper meaning at a crucial moment in the plot.  I normally wouldn't mind that too much, but this film is not terribly comedic, romantic, or insightful into the morning TV business.  It has moments where the movie could have focused on any one of those subjects, but it never really commits to any.  It also bothered me that Ford's character is spot-on when he accuses Becky of being a workaholic with no friends and daddy issues.  I don't think any of those problems are completely solved by the film's resolution, and that bugged me.  I blame director Roger Michell for making a movie that has some interesting plot ideas, but doesn't really take a stand.

Then again, it is entirely possible that this is just not my kind of movie.  My wife liked it and I didn't grit my teeth through it, so there should be something to say for that.  I don't think I would watch it again, but I didn't need to drown my memory in whiskey after seeing this, either.  Overall, I think this is a pleasantly inoffensive movie that disappointed me with a lackluster plot and a solid, if misused, cast.

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