In “Morning Glory” Canadian Sweetheart Rachel McAdams plays an eternally optimistic television producer. That’s how we know this is a work of fantasy. Like unicorns or a good Matthew Lillard movie, there’s no such thing an eternally optimistic television producer. She may be completely fictitious but she’s also perky, precocious and fighting for the survival of her morning television show.
After being fired from the producer’s chair of “Good Morning New Jersey,” Becky (McAdams) moves up to the big leagues, executive producing a network morning show in New York City. The trouble is the network is IBS—it can’t be a co-incidence that their name is an acronym for Irritable Bowel Syndrome because their ratings are in the toilet—and the show is Daybreak, a telecast so lowly rated one observer says “half the audience has lost their remotes and the other half are waiting for their nurse to turn them over.” It’s her job to whip the show into shape, despite the protests of its two high maintenance hosts, former Miss Arizona Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) and the “third worst person in the world,” Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford).
“Morning Glory” is a screwball romantic comedy that has a sit com-ish edge, but is rescued by the charm of its leads. It’s a pleasure to see Harrison Ford grumping it up in his first all out comedic role in some time (that is, if you don’t count the ill-advised Indiana Jones reboot) and Diane Keaton has some good bitchy fun here but it is McAdams who really saves the day.
Her effervescent screen presence keeps us interested even when the script is content to rely on predictable, feel-good story turns. “Morning Glory” often feels like a collection of good ideas that don’t quite hang together. The Patrick Wilson love interest angle feels tagged on and near the end the movie becomes a series of montages as various story threads are a little too conveniently wrapped up, but through it all McAdams shines.
There are echoes of “Broadcast News” throughout. That movie played up the romance a bit more than “Morning Glory” does and twenty-three years ago when the Albert Brooks comedy first addressed the trend of the show business-ification of hard news to pander to ratings the hard news side won. This time around Mike Pomeroy, a seasoned journalist with impeccable credentials, is told by the upstart Becky, “Your side lost” and asked to bring along a camera to his prostate exam. “Broadcast News” had interesting things to say about television and how TV is changing. “Morning Glory” doesn’t have that same kind of insight but it does have Rachel McAdams, which for this lightweight comedy, is enough.