News and entertainment have been battling for viewers since the dawn of television. Sometimes they blend together, while other times they remain stubbornly separate. As of late, thanks to the likes of Fox News, gossip columns, and morning shows, entertainment has taken a commanding lead (even if it sometimes poses as legitimate news). Morning Glory, the dramedy about a young producer who recruits a retired news anchor to host her fledgling morning show, had a chance to discuss these issues openly. Better yet, it could have done so as a piece of entertainment, thus connecting with a wider audience.
Instead, it settles for less of both. It’s short on entertainment and has little to no debating whatsoever. It hints at the divide and what causes it, but never commits to making it a trope of the narrative. It also can’t settle on which two genres it’s combining. Is it a dramatic comedy or a romantic comedy? Sometimes it feels like a dramatic romance, but based around the platonic relationship between Rachel McAdams’ Becky Fuller and Harrison Ford’s Mike Pomeroy.
The duo is actually one of the small joys found in the film. Whenever the producer who equally craves quality and high ratings clashes with the former journalist dedicated to his profession’s most basic cause, there’s purity that temporarily pushes the film’s lack of focus aside. Ford, an expert at playing the angry, egotistical hot head, could walk through this role. In fact, he might have for part of it. He’s good enough to make it hard to tell. When called upon, though, to deliver during the film’s predictable conclusion, he brings steps up and adds (clichéd) layers to his (conventional) character.
McAdams leaves no doubt of her effort put forth in the film. She is a constant force. Walking, running, and talking like she’s on fast forward, the youthful, beautiful actress embodies her caffeine-powered producer aptly. Some may accuse her of overacting (the horror!), but this is one role that allows and calls for just about anything as long as the performer looks busy. Also, McAdams had to know the movie’s reception rested mostly on her small shoulders. Kudos to her for putting it all out there, even in a failing effort.
Even if the young starlet would have literally turned into Audrey Hepburn, she could not have kept the Morning Glory tape from unraveling. The aforementioned identity crisis not withstanding, director Roger Michell’s film still suffers from a bloated, dull script. It’s not necessarily that boring, but it pulls its punches far too much. For all the talking done by its characters, Morning Glory has little to say about the current state of morning television. Is it too jokey? Too newsy? Too little of both? Too much? No one seems to know or care as long as the ratings are up.
Patrick Wilson plays Adam Bennett, a coworker in the magazine division who has the hots for Becky. The two meet, talk (mostly about Ford’s Pomeroy), and eventually get together. Both actors actually sell the attraction pretty well, but I cannot figure out why Adam is in this movie. OK, I know why he’s there from a filmmaker’s standpoint – if you’re going to have a platonic relationship between a man and a woman, you have to make sure at least one of them is in a relationship or the audience might get the ‘wrong’ idea. Realistically, though, he’s just dead weight. There’s no passion in Adam and Becky’s relationship. There’s no risk and no reward. Removing his character, or relegating him to an off-screen presence, might have created a cut worthy of the main character’s fast-paced profession.
Instead, Morning Glory proves to be another movie that may have been saved by a few adjustments. It may prove just good enough for a lazy day in the future when it pops up on TBS or USA, but it’s not the delightful rom-com, touching dramedy, or clever attack on the industry it could have been in a better world. The Blu-ray disc doesn’t try to hide this fact, either. It’s only special features are a deleted scene with Diane Keaton and Modern Family’s Ty Burrell providing a 60-second close and an unnecessary director’s commentary. At least they’re fitting in the sense that they match the film’s lack of ambition.