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Rachel McAdams is still fresher than Folgers in your cup in 'Morning Glory'

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Morning Glory, the lovechild from the screenwriter of The Devil Wears PradaRachel McAdams in "Morning Glory."  Photo courtesy of Paramount. and the director of Notting Hill, should have resembled some kind of chick flick on steroids. Interestingly enough though, this peppy, smart throwback plays out fairly light on the rom-com end and the result is more entertaining than one would have thought.

The film stars the immensely buoyant Rachel McAdams as Becky, a tough go getter trying to break into the television business. She accepts a producer job in New Jersey in an attempt to flee the dream crushing restraints of her small town. Those dreams are harshly shot down again when Becky is almost immediately fired instead of receiving a promotion, throwing right back into the rut she was trying to escape.

Now desperate for employment, Becky lands a gig at IBS, which produces the failing morning show “Daybreak”, a bore that lags behind all the big wigs in the ratings (such as NBC’s Today). Attempting to give the show a major overhaul, she fires the current unprofessional co-host (Ty Burrell), while focusing on a new partner for the stubborn Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) That replacement comes in the form of Mike Pomeroy, a crass, grumpy experienced TV personality that’s as far away from morning show material as can be. The gamble doesn’t pay off initially, causing rating to dive. It also doesn’t help that Becky is informed that Daybreak will be cancelled and replaced by game shows if ratings don’t increase.

The rest of the film follows Becky as she tries to prove her worth in the business and turn around “Daybreak” She gears him towards delivering top stories and tries to push Colleen out of her comfort zone (Keaton as a sumo wrestler. Say no more) Elsewhere, she gets caught up in bland love story with a near perfectly chiseled news editor Adam Brett (Patrick Wilson) which plays out in an expected manner.

Morning Glory is a polished, if easily digestible, slice of formula entertainment. The whole thing is enhanced by McAdams, who is simply astounding. Filled with charm, intelligence, and spunky determination, her Becky engages the audience in a way few other actresses could. (Think the opposite of Anne Hathaway in Devil Wears Prada) Harrison Ford  comes in a close second, his meaty role of a bitter, jaded anchor with a soft center fitting the actor perfectly. Diane Keaton is always delightful, but the script shortchanges her character a bit, which is criminal. To underuse an actress of that talent is unacceptable. Finally, assisting players Jeff Goldblum and Wilson are funny and forgettable, respectively.

Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna recycles many of her romantic comedy material used in previous films’, but her strengths and weaknesses remain the same. She has an eye for sharp writing and insight into the underbelly of the entertainment business. However, her material lacks overall depth and risk, and as in Devil, Glory wastes time on an absolutely cliché, superfluous love subplot that just distracts from the film’s overall path.

Thankfully, Director Roger Michell is a romantic comedy pro that keeps the pace moving and the tone light. Despite his reliance on pop music montages, Michell remains a good choice to propel the film past the weak spots in the script. Of course, everyone is lucky to be aided by the lovely McAdams, a wonderful shot of sugar laced espresso that’s bound to keep any audience fully engaged throughout the genial duration of Morning Glory.

Contact Jim Teti at jteti@philly2philly.com

Photos: Paramount