MORNING GLORY. Starring Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Diane Keaton. Directed by Roger Michel. Rated M (Coarse language and sexual references). 107 minutes.
When you can advertise ‘From the writer of The Devil Wears Prada and the director of Notting Hill’, you have a guaranteed audience. With the attractive Rachel McAdams starring and the added presence of Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton and Jeff Goldblum, then more audiences will turn up. And enjoy Morning Glory.
For integrity’s sake, I should declare a special lack of interest in the topic! My radio is fixed on Radio National (and BBC Radio 4 in the UK) and, definitely, definitely, not fixed on popular breakfast programs. Morning Glory is about one of those TV shows that people glance at as they are getting dressed, cooking and eating breakfast and getting ready to go to work, shows which rely on pop and popular stories, celebrities and weather personalities and so on. This film tries to have its frittata (cooked by Harrison Ford) and eat it as well. It offers criticism of the breakfast show genre but then more than endorses it. (So, perhaps, Radio National listeners and ABC 24 Hour News viewers need to lighten up – only, perhaps, perhaps!)
The writer of The Devil Wears Prada (Aline Brosh McKenna, who also wrote 27 Dresses) offers the same humorous and sardonic tone to the business world and communication world of television. The director of Notting Hill (Roger Michel who also did the serious Changing Lanes) brings the same (rather British) tone of humorous observation of human nature.
It is Rachel McAdams’ film. Since she was one of the Mean Girls (actually, the leader) in 2004, she has had a series of good roles (The Notebook, Red Eye, State of Play, Time Traveller’s Wife and Irene Adler in Sherlock Holmes) and is able to carry this film as a workaholic, overly ambitious morning television producer.
But, the pleasant surprise of the film is how Harrison Ford can do curmudgeonly and yet make it funny, sometimes appalling, with expert timing. He is the Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who is, according to Patrick Wilson (the love interest here) who was his producer for many years, the third worst person in the world. Ford does sardonic, arrogant, detached, petty, obnoxious (and that is all in front of the TV camera as he co-hosts the morning show). Also along for the ride is Diane Keaton as the on-screen ditzy-merry host who can chortle at even the most absurd of stories or humiliating stunts for the weatherman (Matt Malloy). Offscreen, she is in the Harrison Ford vein.
Jeff Goldblum has the more serious role of company boss – where ratings mean everything.
Actually, a lot of the action is quite trite, as are the stories aired for undiscriminating viewers, who tend to perk up when the co-hosts begin sparring. But, as light entertainment which doesn’t bear too much thinking about, it is a comedy of errors, comedy of upsets, with dialogue which is sometimes spiky, sometimes sparkling.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out January 6 2011.