Morning Glory is an entertaining comedy that takes audiences behind the scenes in revitalizing a poorly rated morning news show.
News producer Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) grew up wanting to be a producer for the Today show on NBC. It’s an adorable dream job for a child but as one grows older, it’s the type of job that becomes harder to obtain. When we first meet her, she’s moments away from getting laid off from her position with Good Morning New Jersey. It’s a mixture of budget cuts and the network wanting someone who can do both the journalism and business sides of the job. This doesn’t derail Becky, who goes into full pursuit of sending her resume everywhere. Eventually, IBS executive Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum) comes calling but he doesn’t think she’s up for the job of executive producing Daybreak.
When Becky enters the elevator and fangirls in front of Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), she represents all of us who grew up watching Harrison Ford. Her jaw drops as soon as she recognizes who else is in the elevator. Who wouldn’t drop their jaw when they find themselves in the elevator with Harrison Ford?!? Little does she know that the veteran newsman is going to play a huge role in saving the morning news show, for better or worse.
What Jerry Barnes doesn’t realize is that Becky is one of the hardest working people out there. She rises up to the challenge of reviving the program, starting with her public firing of co-host Paul McVee (Ty Burrell). It was some seven years before the rise of #MeToo when this film was released. I’m not going to say that Paul McVee is at the level of Matt Lauer bad but he certainly comes off in a very negative way as soon as we meet him. This leaves Daybreak with little money to hire a co-host for Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton). Meanwhile, the film enters romantic comedy territory with Becky’s relationship with Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson). It moves beyond professional relationship really quick. Of course, this is also because both have experience working with Mike Pomeroy.
At first, Mike does everything he can to sabotage both the show and his career. He eventually comes to an understanding with Becky although full respect won’t come until later. The two keep going at it over what the direction of Daybreak should be. Again, Mike is a veteran newsman. It’s like getting Tom Brokaw-esque anchor coming in to co-host a poorly rated morning show. These are journalists who like to report the news, not sensational stories. Becky has to inform Mike that the news department lost in the debate over news vs. entertainment. To which Mike retorts that people want information, not junk. The real change in their relationship comes when they break the Governor’s arrest over racketeering charges on live television. Mike may have lied about it but he certainly can do real news.
Today finally comes calling right when Daybreak secures another year on the year. Becky has to make a decision but it took Colleen chewing Mike out for being so stubborn and refusing to adapt. At the very moment you think she’s going to take the Today job, Mike starts a cooking segment. It’s one of those moments where you can’t believe what you’re seeing. Does Becky take her dream job or does she turn it down and continue what she started? The film is ten years old so there’s a good bet that you already know what happens.
Visually, the film is quite a treat. It captures the claustrophobia of the behind-the-scenes to a point where we relish whenever Becky goes outside. Moreover, they bring in SNL‘s Don Roy King to direct the television aspect. Not only do they have up to three cameras for the regular film but they’re also filing via the multi-camera system for the news show itself. The fun is watching Matt Malloy’s Ernie doing all these field pieces. It’s a wonder that the Blu-ray doesn’t have more extras!
Working women have a history in comedy. You can find them everywhere, from Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday to Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada. Becky Fuller shows that she belongs here–it’s an uphill climb but the eager news producer has what it takes. Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna brings the same magic to this film that she brought to Prada and it works like a charm. She approaches this film in a way that’s different from films like Network or Broadcast News. That the debate between news vs. entertainment is over adds to the film’s humor especially with Mike Pomeroy not wanting to lower himself to the sensationalist junk. Behind the camera, Roger Michell brilliantly directs this movie and gets wonderful performances from all involved.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that Harrison Ford can’t do comedy. The man might be more of an action star but he can certainly get some laughs. I really love his performance in this film. Rachel McAdams carries the film through and through, holding her own against the likes of screen legends Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton.. Diane Keaton also turns in a solid performance. Jeff Goldblum doesn’t have much to do here but he displays his typical charm as usual. There are so many scenes between Ford and McAdams that result with laughter over here. One such scene is when she comes to offer him the job. Keaton might get third billing but the main focus tends to be on Rachel and Harrison. When we’re not focusing on Rachel and Harrison, it’s Rachel and Patrick. If there’s a flaw, it’s that the film needed more Keaton.
Unfortunately, Morning Glory disappointed at the box office, bringing in $60 million against a $40 million budget. On paper, it’s the sort of film that has the pedigree to be a success. Maybe it would have done better with its original July 2010 date? Or maybe audiences preferred to see Ford in an action film instead of as a gruffy morning show host? This film came out when Marvel wasn’t dominating the calendar every year so the film’s failure cannot be blamed on “theme park movies.” The major comic book movies of 2010 were Iron Man 2 and the epic failure that was Jonah Hex. In any event, I enjoyed this film during my first viewing in 2010. It’s a solid comedy and it still holds up on repeat viewing–enough that Morning Glory is now in my top 15 films for 2010.
Morning Glory isn’t trying to be Network or Broadcast News but it doesn’t need to be because it’s both fun and entertaining enough in its own right. It’s more of a workplace dramedy than a satire that’s trying to say something about the media. Sure, there is commentary to be made about the whole news vs. entertainment debate. There’s certainly some comments about Ernie’s field pieces going viral on YouTube. When ratings are everything, every view counts.
DIRECTOR: Roger Michell
SCREENWRITER: Aline Brosh McKenna
CAST: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson, and Jeff Goldblum
Paramount released Morning Glory in theaters on November 10, 2010. Grade: 4.5/5
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