Rachel McAdams gives the best (and funniest) performance of her career.
Occasionally, Hollywood can still surprise us. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes they turn out a product like Morning Glory that is refreshingly creative within the confines of the genre. The movie succeeds because of the clever and wry script by Aline Brosh McKenna (who adapted The Devil Wears Prada and wrote 27 Dresses) and star Rachel McAdams, who gives the best (and funniest) performance of her career.
McAdams stars as Becky Fuller, a young producer of a morning news show in New Jersey. Her whole life is her job so when she is suddenly fired because of corporate restructuring she is terrified to not have a million things to constantly fret over. When Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum) offers her a position as an executive producer of the worst network morning show she leaps at the chance.
When she arrives at her new show, Daybreak, Becky is met with a diva host named Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton), a sex-addicted co-host, Paul McVee (Ty Burrell), and a studio that is falling apart. Becky is determined to saved the show and get the ratings up so, after firing Paul for being entirely incompetent, she begins to search for a new co-host.
In a strange stroke of luck, Becky discovers that a broadcasting legend, Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), is under contract with the network she tries to convince him to join the morning show. When that doesn’t work, she tries coercion. Pomeroy has over 40 years of experience and dozens of accolades to brag about, but he is also incredibly arrogant and childish. Becky is forced to somehow keep the show together despite being stonewalled by Pomeroy at every turn.
The movie does have plenty of formulaic components, such as a Becky’s love interest, Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson), which does nothing for the story except to serve as a sounding board for Becky’s neuroses. Director Roger Michell bogs the film down with just a few too many montages and has difficulty knowing which bits are funny and which aren’t, making the audience suffer on both counts.
However, McKenna’s script is very funny and manages to feel fresh even though it moves to a predictable climax. She gives Ford plenty to play with in his character, which he does expertly. There are times when he sounds less apathetic and more monotone, but that can be overlooked because overall it’s a fine performance.
Keaton is terrific as the jaded and bored Colleen Peck. No one plays fake emotions better than Diane Keaton, and there are several moments where she goes from anger to pleasant in a split second that are just hilarious.
The movie belongs to McAdams, though. Becky could have easily been just another Julia Roberts-type role where we only know what the character is feeling because they tell us. McAdams shows the audience who Becky really is and what makes her tick. She barely sits still for more than two seconds, will not let go of her cell phone, and is too preoccupied with her next task to avoid bumping into what is right in front of her.
McAdams is a true gem for Hollywood filmmakers and is, if not the only reason to see Morning Glory, definitely the biggest reason. | Matthew F. Newlin