Watched by a nation of half-awake people who are either brushing their teeth or searching for the car keys, morning television is usually pretty bland fare and such a description would have done for this comedy were it not for a handful of good performances from a well-chosen cast. Rachel McAdams (doing her best Anne Hathaway alá Devil Wears Prada impression), Diane Keaton and a disturbingly curmudgeonly Harrison Ford, all work hard to save Roger Michell’s latest piece, and with some decent chemistry they just about turn what would have been a hopelessly contrived and hackneyed tale into a fun piece of throwaway entertainment.
For my money Rachel McAdams is a more likeable and vibrant lead than the infuriatingly self-absorbed intern from Devil Wears Prada, but other similarities abound without much subtlety. Idealistic young girl chasing her dream comes up against a cold-hearted but celebrated old hand – battle of wills ensues – references to how girl’s relationship is affected by long-working hours is made – veteran warms to girl in touching finalé. However despite plundering ideas from its successful predecessors, Morning Glory zig-zags about without explanation and is so brain-bashingly formulaic at times you will feel more manipulated than Julian Assange’s criminal record.
To make matters worse, despite some flirtation, Morning Glory misses the opportunity to pass any worthwhile comment on the recent emergence of ‘infotainment’ television and the aforementioned dilemma of young workaholics who sacrifice their social lives for the good of their careers. As with nearly everything else in the movie, both issues are dealt with in nominal fashion, usually by way of montage or morbidly lazy scripting.
Despite all this, the film does have a light-hearted nature to it that will probably enrapture some audiences and McAdams is a down-to-earth delight as ‘girl’ in question Becky Fuller. Playing an aspiring television producer who lands a job as boss of Daybreak, a failing breakfast television programme which is on the verge of being cancelled she carries the film well with assistance from Ford and Diane Keaton. In an attempt to rejuvenate the show, she recruits the reluctant Mike Pomeroy (Ford) – a legendary news reporter who lists “laying a cold wash-cloth on Mother Theresa’s forehead during a cholera epidemic” and more questionably, “having lunch with Dick Cheney” as some of his more distinguished achievements – by invoking a clause in his multi-million dollar contract.
The resulting clashes between the Bambi-like McAdams and a miserly Ford with a fair streak of Han Solo in him are entertaining, even if they do start to stagnate slightly as the film pushes on. Playing his feisty co-anchor, the underused Keaton also has some excellent – if rather curtailed – sparring sessions with her obstreperous colleague. Unfortunately, these moments don’t last long enough or exhibit enough variety to truly illuminate Morning Glory, which as a film, is probably a fair reflection of breakfast television.