Morning Glory

a film by Roger Michell

There is a scene about midway through Morning Glory that pretty much sums up the entire film in one quick, yet fell swoop. Harrison Ford's character, Mike Pomeroy, a gruff and hard-hitting once much-respected news anchor, a la Peter Jennings or Tom Brokaw, who has been forced to take a job as morning show co-host on make-believe IBS network's equally make-believe Daybreak show in order to keep his extremely lucrative contract intact, has taken offense to the use of the word fluffy in one of the typically banal and trifling morning show stories (one about baby chicks) as several staffers are frantically searching through a thesaurus for a suitable replacement before air-time. And fluffy is exactly what we get with Roger Michell's forgettably named Morning Glory - fluffy (sans the thesaurus).

Perhaps, one is led to believe while watching Morning Glory, writer Aline Brosh McKenna and director Michell should have had their own team of staffers frantically searching that same said thesaurus for a suitable replacement for their banal and trifling (and fluffy!) original screenplay and eventual finished product of a movie - a superficially polished trifling of a typically innocuous Hollywood bag of manufactured goods. Of course considering the subject matter of the movie - the running of a typically slap-happy (and fluffy!) morning news show and all the fluffy foibles that go along with such - I suppose one should not expect the script to exceed the quality of a typically slap-happy (and fluffy!) morning news show. And trust me - it doesn't.

Now don't get me wrong, there are some fun moments to be had in Morning Glory - every single one of them involving Harrison Ford in one way or another - but overall the film is nothing more surprising or cutting edge than any of those aforementioned typically slap-happy (and fluffy!) morning news shows. Written and played as if a formula book on how not to write for substance or staying-power (McKenna has on his resume such equally fluffy, but occasionally amusing past films as Three to Tango, Laws of Attraction and The Devil Wears Prada - the latter's saving grace being La Streep's acerbically-acted domination of the film) Morning Glory boasts a fine cast - all of whom seem woefully pining away in roles that are well below their respective talents.

Rachel McAdams is faithfully adorable and buoyant in her role as a frazzled but determined morning show producer, but then when is Rachel McAdams not adorable and buoyant (hence the faithfully tag) but sadly for her (and I suppose us too) there is not much else to do in said role other than act all faithfully cute and buoyant. Meanwhile Patrick Wilson, as McAdam's requisite love interest (the film has shades of being a romantic comedy though it is something else indeed), has even less to do than McAdams, while bringing up the rear in our little game of nothing-to-do, is the extremely underused Diane Keaton. Proving time and time again (in both good movies and in bad) that she is a comedic dynamo, and that when let loose upon the screen, she can steal the proverbial carpet out from under anyone else within earshot. Of course, the actress/comedienne is given nothing to do here except for a mouthful of banter now and again.

The only standout, the only showstopper if you will, that we get here is Harrison Ford, showing us that he is indeed not washed up after all. A sort of blend of Indiana Jones and John Book of Witness rolled into what one character calls the third worst person ever, Ford plays his seemingly tired (and tiresome) role with the ease one would expect from an actor of Ford's caliber. In fact, Ford has us at his overly grumbled, meticulously begrudging, fastidiously grumpy, taciturn hello (aka, his angry "get out of my way" bellow at McAdams in an elevator). Unfortunately, as is always the inevitable case in such a film as this, once the pat, sappy, cliche'd ending comes around, and Ford is forced (much like his character) to lower his dignity and join the other muggly folks at Daybreak, even he becomes just another fluffy cog in the wheel that is Morning Glory. Fluffy indeed. [11/17/10]