Paramount Pictures, Rated PG-13
One of the hardest reviews for those of us in the media to write is, well, regarding movies about those of us in the media—a predicament faced here, on the subject of workplace comedy, Morning Glory. While you’re supposed to be laughing out loud as Rachel McAdams’ earnest, nervous-wreck morning-show news producer teeters on the brink of a breakdown or is threatened daily with the dreaded pink slip, those of us in the field are more likely cringing in the audience.
Directed by Notting Hill’s Roger Michell and written by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada), Morning Glory stars McAdams as ditzy, aspiring television news programmer Becky. She’s the kind of frantic workaholic who dashes out the door to the office clutching her briefcase, but forgets to dress in more than her underwear. Dumped by her New Jersey TV station just when she’s anticipating a promotion, Becky—after endless searching—finally lands a new position on the Manhattan morning show Daybreak: a program with the distinction of possibly having the lowest ratings on the planet, and an audience that either needs a nurse to turn them over or can’t locate their remotes.
Not deterred in the least, and obsessed with perking up the show while always just a step away from being fired if she doesn’t, Becky barely survives the daily disasters, including warding off the indecent advances of a female foot-fetishist anchorman, toning down the excessively bubbly when not bossy former Miss Arizona newscaster (Diane Keaton), and dragging out of retirement the resistant, grouchy legendary anchor Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), in a last ditch effort to save the show from extinction.
Morning Glory sustains an uneasy balance between dredging up satire from the ludicrous content plaguing television morning shows—along with behind-the-scenes ruthless rivalry—and striking a more serious tone when it comes to the deplorable dumbing down and tabloiding up of news in favor of infotainment. And in contrast to McAdams breathlessly trying much too hard to please, both as a character and an actress, Ford, with his cool, contemptuous air, nicely holds everything together.
Morning Glory is yet another mostly admirable addition to the growing trend of movies reflecting the real world, where characters are as likely to lose in employment as romance. But while the comedy leads audiences down a promising path of thoughtful contemplation through humor when pondering whatever the hell happened to the news, when arriving there the story seems too hesitant to be decisive about having any clue.