“Morning Glory” purports to be the story of young TV producer played by Rachel McAdams. As the pert and chipper twenty-something Becky, McAdams does give the opening minutes a certain energy. When she’s downsized from a morning TV show in New Jersey, she lands on her feet, convincing skeptical IBC exec Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum) that she can turn around the perpetual ratings losses of their own “Today” rival.
But not until Becky faces the actual dire situation does the movie pick up comic momentum. That’s because the film’s real stars, Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford, come onscreen and save this from being just another romantic comedy in which the plucky young gal overcomes all obstacles in the Big Apple, finds true love, and achieves her girlhood dreams. Keaton is Colleen Peck, a former Miss Arizona who is not getting any younger but stuck with a string of airhead male co-anchors. When Becky (somewhat incredibly) fires the latest one and brings in veteran newsman Mike Pomeroy (Ford), things go from bad to terrible all at once.
Pomeroy chews through producers like the exotic fruit plates he demands for his dressing room. Having earned his stripes on the battlefields and in the government offices of the world, Mike disdains the pabulum that the morning shows spoon feed their not-yet-awake audience. To say the very least, Mike and Colleen don’t get along: their off-camera insults give screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna a chance to display her wit and their comic chops to best advantage. Ford does crusty, acerbic old crock about as well as anyone currently going, and Keaton gives as good as she gets.
In fact, director Roger Michelle (best known for “Notting Hill”) probably needs to have given these two more screen time. When the story veers off into Becky’s office romance with fellow producer Adam (Patrick Wilson), the movie turns pretty ordinary—except when they’re trading horror stories about Mike. McAdams does better when Becky is bouncing off the redoubtable Pomeroy, who dismisses her as a lightweight. Thing is, she understands his contract better than he does, so she uses her leverage to drag him into the studio and keep him there.
Predictably, the show loses even more ratings points, Becky’s love affair founders, and her boss gives her six weeks to move up or go home. No real tension in the movie, this being comedy, but director Michelle works out the problem cleverly enough, restoring order at the end without essentially altering any of the characters. The final interchange between Rachel and Mike is a beauty.
“Morning Glory” is rated “PG-13,” for language and some sexual situations: I’d guess that much of the humor will not appeal to teens, in any case. It’s a slick Hollywood flick of the old-fashioned kind, as the music and cinematography sometimes too forcibly remind us. Adults will likely enjoy it for the wit and the star power it displays.