All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
The key moment in Roger Michell's comedy Morning Glory comes when Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams), the ambitious, workaholic executive producer of the morning news show "Daybreak," argues with Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), her heavy-drinking, hard-news-only reporting anchorman. As the two stand by a catering tray, she points out that he's bran, and that their struggling program needs to be like a donut -- something people enjoy. When he sticks to his old-school no-fluff guns, she tells him that the war between entertainment and news is over and his side lost. That's a great hard truth for Mike to hear, but it also betrays how insubstantial, though often entertaining, this whole movie is. Written by Devil Wears Prada scribe Aline Brosh McKenna, Morning Glory contains many of the same elements that made that earlier film a hit -- namely an immensely likable young woman thrust into a powerful position at work for the first time in her life. And Rachel McAdams does likable as well as anybody her age. She seizes on the character's intense drive, but never makes Becky anything less than adorable -- it's a movie-star performance, and that's good because the film needs something bright and shiny at its center to distract us from the fact that nothing important is going on. She's not the only welcome distraction. Director Michell keeps the scenes zipping along with welcome professionalism, making sure to get the most out of the big and small laughs peppered throughout the script, many delivered by John Pankow as Lenny Bergman, Becky's loyal right-hand man on the show. Jeff Goldblum also scores as the often-cruel network honcho who plucks Becky out of obscurity to head up his network's perennially fourth-place Today Show wannabe. And as a baby-faced middle-aged weather man, Matt Malloy makes stale gags like riding a scary roller coaster -- on the air no less -- work. Of course there's a love interest for our young heroine, and Patrick Wilson makes the most of that underwritten role. He exudes intelligence and confidence that mesh winningly with McAdams' nervous ambition. Plus they look beautiful together -- his blond Ivy League looks complement her fresh-faced, dark-haired cuteness. The big problem at the heart of Morning Glory is that, unlike McKenna's Prada script, our heroine is competent right from the get-go. The movie seems to be about a young career woman learning to have it all by surviving a trial-by-fire at the hands of an uncaring boss, but where Anne Hathaway's character in the earlier film learned something about herself, Becky is more or less unchanged by the end of the movie. She's more successful, but she hasn't learned anything about herself. Instead, the character who must undergo the transformation is Mike. Where Meryl Streep's boss from hell slowly revealed a wounded side, she didn't exactly change her behavior toward her underling. The emotional stakes of Morning Glory hinge entirely on if Mike the old fart will open up to his new boss, but since he's not the main character, the focus of the entire third act is misplaced. The finale comes down to a "Daybreak" cooking segment, and that's very apt because the movie is as enjoyable and as memorable as watching your favorite morning TV personality whip up a frittata.