Rachel McAdams as Becky
Jeff Goldblum as Jerry Barnes
Patrick Wilson as Adam Bennett
Harrison Ford as Mike Pomeroy
Diane Keaton as Colleen Peck
John Pankow as Lenny Bergman
J. Elaine Marcos as Lisa Bartlett
Matt Malloy as Ernie Appleby
Ty Burrell as Paul McVee
Vanessa Aspillaga as Anna
Linda Powell as Louanne
Mike Hydeck as Ralph
Directed by Roger Michell
After losing her job at a small local morning program, Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) is hired as the executive producer of “Daybreak,” the worst-rated morning show on network television, and immediately find a new co-host for the show’s disagreeable host Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton). She decides to bring on respected former news anchor Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to fill the slot, although the crusty vet doesn’t want to have anything to do with the silliness of what happens on “Daybreak.”
Anyone who’s been home on a weekday can understand the humor inherent in one of the country’s television institutions, the morning talk show, and how easy it is to poke humor at it. “Saturday Night Live” has done it many times quite effectively, and even those involved in the networks’ most profitable commodity may be the first to admit that it doesn’t take brain surgery to keep barely-awake viewers entertained. This is probably why a comedy set in that environment, and the first one in quite some time too, is an easy pill to swallow even if all the elements may point to it being another meet-cute romantic comedy (Which it’s most definitely not.)
Like with screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna’s earlier adaptation of “The Devil Wears Prada,” this is another update of Mike Nichols’ “Working Girl,” complete with ferry ride into the big city where Rachel McAdams’ Becky Fuller gets a plum job as executive producer of a poorly-rated morning show with hopes of being able to turn it around. She certainly has her hands full with the on-screen talent, but we quickly learn she knows her stuff and she has the inspiration to bring a real newsman onto the show in the form of the crotchety vet Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), something that doesn’t go over well with the show’s mainstay, played by Diane Keaton. Meanwhile, Becky has begun a relationship with a fellow producer played by Patrick Wilson, a romance that’s destined to fail unless she can turn her brain off from work, something that gets harder when she’s forced to keep Pomeroy under control.
The key to this film working so well is that Rachel McAdams continues to be intensely likeable throughout the entire movie. She’s able to get the audience on her side almost immediately and keep you pulling for her in whatever situation she’s in, but especially when it looks like her job and show is in danger. While some of playing that role requires the type of silliness we’ve seen far too often from the likes of Meg Ryan, Kate Hudson and whomever is currently filling their shoes, McAdams is able to bring enough intelligence to the role that you can believe her character is capable of running this show.
The one actual veteran from “Working Girl,” Harrison Ford, hasn’t been as good in a movie in ten years or more, as the role of Mike Pomeroy seems perfectly-tailored to his talents as an actor, including his ability to be charming and crotchety at the same time. He also brings a surprising amount of heart to the crusty veteran and his scenes with McAdams are so strong that they bring a lot more weight to the film than it may have had otherwise.
That just leaves Diane Keaton. As hard as it may be to believe, she may be the weak link among the cast, because as has been the case far too much lately, she tries way too hard to be funny and it doesn’t feel at all natural. Her banter with Ford tends to be her best scenes, leading to a full-out on-air battle of words, the kind you might expect every time you watch a morning show where the on-air personalities wouldn’t seem to be simpatico.
Director Roger Michell, who has taken a break from this type of movie since helming “Notting Hill,” proves he still has the comedy chops of some of the best Hollywood directors, making the movie light (and yes, quite “fluffy”). Some of the drama gets a bit overblown, but it never stays in that realm long enough to be bothersome before it’s back to the laughs.
Regardless of any problems, the movie is just a lot of fun and by the time Becky starts pulling out the stops to get ratings up by putting Ernie the weatherman through the wringer, you’re fully on board. Surprisingly, Ernie steals the entire movie with some of his antics, including a rollercoaster ride that’s likely to have you in tears.
The Bottom Line:
Perfect casting and a strong desire to keep the film light and free of the normal rom-com formulas makes “Morning Glory” one of those rare mainstream comedies that’s far better than it should be. It’s a fun crowd-pleasing movie indeed.