Directed by: Roger Michell
Premise: A young but enthusiastic television producer (Rachel McAdams) is given the chance to overhaul a failing morning news program. Upon taking the position she comes into conflict with an old-school news anchor (Harrison Ford) who sees the program as beneath him.
What Works: At first, Morning Glory appears as though it will be a standard workplace-centered romantic comedy, but the film quickly reveals an intelligence and sense of humor that elevates it above the standard entry in the genre. Showing more in common with The Devil Wears Prada and Thank You For Smoking than the average bottom feeding Jennifer Aniston or Katherine Heigl vehicle, Morning Glory puts the romance in the background and focuses on the young woman’s struggles in her new management role. The supporting cast has a pair of great performances by Diane Keaton as a pill popping morning anchor and Harrison Ford as a borderline alcoholic newsman. Both play their characters as divas well past their prime and have fun with the cruelty they are able to inflict on the production staff. Ford in particular is great as a cynical and disillusioned old man and he is able to use his age and presence to intimidate others. His character stands in opposition to the young and chipper heroine trying to save the show. McAdams does a very nice job in her role, giving the character a lot of energy but also conveying an earnestness about her intentions that makes the character authentic. Morning Glory is also paced extremely well, moving from one plot point to the next very smoothly while also setting up ideas and events that pay off later. The story builds well with McAdams first trying to prove herself and later tasked with saving the show from cancellation and her entire crew from unemployment. Her conflict with Ford’s character is similarly well staged as she gets to see the man underneath and both characters are forced to acknowledge each other’s flaws and humanity.
What Doesn’t: Morning Glory has its share of faults. Like the lead character, the film is hopelessly optimistic about media and about people and although the cast is put through challenges intended to question that optimism it is never really shaken. Morning Glory also has its share of clichés as the lead character faces familiar choices between love and work. It is never overcome by those clichés and the characters are interesting enough that the clichés are easy enough to accept or ignore.
Bottom Line: Morning Glory is a very good and entertaining film. Even though it may be predictable in places, the storytelling and the acting are of such quality that Morning Glory remains a smart film with wide appeal.
Episode: #319 (December 19, 2010)