Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Morning Glory


"You're Gonna Make it After Alllll"*
or
"Will Someone Tell Me Why I Logged Off 'BangingGrannies.com' For This?"

Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) has just rebounded from being fired from her Jersey TV station to being hired to produce an in-the-ratings-dumper morning news-klatsch in New York. The stipulation from boss Jeff Goldblum (whose heighth advantage over McAdams is used to good advantage) is that she has to turn the ratings around or the venerable TV-institution "DayBreak" will be cancelled.

But who wants to work in an institution?

The place is a mad-house.  Goofy weatherman, clueless reporters, a perv' anchor (he delivers the second headline above), and the Nurse Ratched is the veteran house-mother-anchor (Diane Keaton) who views Becky as just one more producer for a show that's "a revolving door for cretinous morons."  She's seen 'em come and go, while she's been "pulling the train up the hill(...with my TEETH!)" for fourteen years.  "DayBreak" needs to be fixed.

Becky starts to shake things up, and her first job is to find an anchor a little less orange.  She goes the credibility route and seeks out Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford, who hasn't done this much mugging since Return of the Jedi**), a veteran news-man (he lunches with Chris Matthews, Bob Schieffer, and Morley Safer), grumpily living out his golden parachute contract, and has no desire to lower his standards working on a show with "half an audience who've lost the remote, and the other half are waiting for the nurse to turn them over."  Warned that he is "the third-worst person in the world...after Kim Jong-Il and Angela Lansbury" by the movie's obligatory boy-friend (Patrick Wilson...slumming***), Becky finds a loop-hole in his contract and forces the pro to "lower his standards," but raise the bar on passive-aggressive behavior (he refuses to "banter, from the Latin word for 'gibber like a moron'")...as if the show needed any more of that.  Pretty soon, every surface at the station has Becky-forehead-sized dents from her beating herself into them—that and her seeming incapacity to open doors are the two consistent jokes of which no opportunity is passed.

It's got the TV-industry cynicism down, but raised to the bitchy level of the fashion industry (the writer, Aline Brosh McKenna, also wrote The Devil Wears Prada, ...and 27 Dresses , and Laws of Attraction, and Three to Tango...so this is the first movie of hers I haven't actively avoided...although I did see Prada, and admired it).  Director Roger Michell can do rom-com fine (Notting Hill), but he's capable of doing better stuff, and he keeps everything lively and semi-sunny, despite the rampant cruelty tossed around like so much unnecessary paper-shuffling on a news-desk.  But, he can't do much with the cliched material, from the "mmet cute" to the "slo-mo run through new York." 

Morning Glory is okay, but it breaks no boundaries (or news, for all that), it's another "working girl" comedy in the revolving door of them.

Morning Glory is a Cable-Watcher.

* Cue the hat-throw. Give credit where credit is due: I didn't notice this was basically "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (and a two-hour stretch of the half-hour pilot, at that) until Ford's crusty news vet says to the young producer "You have a repellant moxie" in the same way that Ed Asner's Lou Grant said "You've got spunk....I HATE spunk!"  Where's Betty White when you need her?

** ...which makes me think something is wrong.  Ford is the master of the subtle slow-burn comic performance, but this one is at a hard-boil.  His lines delivered in a husky, phlegmatic drone, you start to wonder if Ford—like his character—just isn't happy to be there (y'know, like his narration in BladeRunner?).  Then, he manages to take what should have been the movie's worst scene, and make it shine, giving it depth, resonance and heart...while still not betraying his character.  Nice work.

*** Yeah, but on the other hand, I've felt so sorry for so many good actresses playing "the girlfriend" over the years, this is one for equal opportunity. 

2 comments:

Movie Guy said...

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J.P. said...

I haven't seen this movie yet so I have not yet gotten a chance to review it on my blog, but this review pretty much sums up everything I've heard about this movie. Nice review :]