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MORNING GLORY, 2010
A hotshot television producer is set the challenge of reviving a struggling morning show program, despite the constant feuding of its high-profile anchors.
Release Date: 12 November 2010
We've been debating entertainment versus news value since before television ever came around but the immediacy of the new medium brought the conflict to the fore like nothing ever has and for many the truth is, as new 'Daybreak' executive producer Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) sums up "news lost."
For a lot of people that's just fine because number one) entertainment pays a lot better, and number two) the news is often both depressing and dull, requiring great effort of concentration to assimilate and analyze. But there will always be those who stand as the last bulwark against pure news for its necessary to our social discourse. Unfortunately, guys like that, guys like Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), tend to be a lot like the news: grumpy, solipsistic, humorless. So when he's forced to co-anchor a bubbly 'Today'-esque morning show, hilarity should ensue, right?
It sounds like the set up for a bad sit-com, but director Roger Michell's ("Notting Hill") light dramedy take actually ends making "Morning Glory" a lot better than that. Well, not a lot better, but better than it has any right to be.
Mainly because, like the morning show itself, he has Harrison Ford to anchor his venture. Ford's Pomeroy, a pastiche of well-known hard news anchors like Dan Rather and Mike Wallace, is simultaneously urbane and charming, and grumpy and sullen. He's never at a loss for a snarky comment or cutting remark, making it easily understandable why his former producer Adam (Patrick Wilson) calls him 'the third worst person in the world.'
And yet, in Ford's hands he is not only likeable but relatable. Compared with the Miranda Priestly of screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna's "The Devil Wears Prada," Pomeroy's feelings and reactions are not entirely unreasonable. He's a man who is watching the world pass him by and, more aggravatingly, dumping everything he considers important along the way. He's consumed by the frustration of irrelevancy.
But never in an over the top way, disbelieving way. We should hate him the way everyone else does, but we can't and more importantly, we can completely understand why Becky can't either. Ford has been stuck in a sort of 'grumpy-old-guy' phase for a while now but here finally masters it, rising above the level of shtick to create an actual human being who is also a grumpy old guy.
Unfortunately no one else is as capable.
Mostly that's because it's not Pomeroy's story. That honor belongs to Becky, a bubbly, struggling television producer who is convinced she can create a great show if someone will just give her a chance (the eternal song of the motion picture underdog). When struggling last place network IBS gives her that chance she goes for it with gusto.
But that's about there is to say is to say about Becky; a workaholic by her own admission, she has very little in the way of personal relationships or any idea of how to pursue them. That doesn't really lend itself well to development – beyond her attempting a relationship with handsome Adam she doesn't change much through the film – and no matter how likeable McAdams is as an actress, she can't quite overcome that problem. The filmmakers seem aware of the problem as well, eventually all but dropping any subplot that doesn't involve Becky trying to get Mike to actually try and make the show succeed.
Which is a problem "Morning Glory" is never fully able to get around; it's complete inability to develop itself beyond its initial conceit (except for Mike). Like Becky herself, the entire film seems to be holding its breath waiting for Mike to come around and unable to do anything else in the meantime beyond some harmless comedy bits about putting a weather man in positions designed to make him scream in fear.
There is some attempt, off and on, to focus on a central thematic conflict between entertainment and news and whether it's possible for the two to ever co-exist. Being the type of film it is, the thumb is considerably on the scales for one side of that tug of war, and it ain't the news.
On the other hand, you don't watch stuff like "Morning Glory" or 'Daybreak" for intelligent commentary on modern life, and everyone involved (except Mike or Ford) are perfectly aware of it, leaving "Morning Glory" for the most part hovering around harmless. There's been a lot of good and often funny drama done over the years about the collision of news and entertainment but never before has it been so charming and pointless.