November 13, 2010
Director: Roger Michell
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton
Release Date: November 10, 2010
What’s the Story, Morning Glory? That’s a Good Question.
Morning Glory is a tough film to categorize. Is it a romantic comedy? Kind of. Is it a drama? Not exactly. Come to think of it, there’s only one thing that’s universal about Rachel McAdams’ latest starring role: it’s disappointingly uneven.
The story goes like this: the producer of a New Jersey morning talk show (McAdams) is fired, seeks out a job in the Big Apple, runs into a coy-yet-keenly-aware-of-his-own-charming-nature television editor, manages to elicit the help of an acrimonious-yet-legendary journalist (Ford), and learn a little something about “kicking up her heels” along the way. These ingredients, it would seem, call for a prolonged simmer—one that gives these characters a chance to breathe and release all of their flavors in an appropriate amount of time. Unfortunately, screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna and director Roger Michell decided that microwaving the whole thing and serving it on a paper plate would make for a more satisfying meal.
Because of this, Morning Glory ends up being a classic example of what not to do when constructing a narrative. The adage “show, don’t tell” is cliche, but it’s become a mantra because of one indisputable fact: it’s true. Explaining to an audience, for example, that Mike Pomeroy—the previously alluded to legendary news anchor—has deep regrets about his decision to pursue his career above all else (including his family) doesn’t give us a chance to mull over any character-driven subtleties that would otherwise be meaningful and lasting. In fact, said subtext is literally spelled out by the brooding TV personality as he chews on a cigar and straightens his silk tie. To say the thematic delivery is heavy-handed is an understatement.
But this is supposed to be lighthearted fare, right?
No one goes to see a movie like this expecting a life-altering experience, but teasing viewers with the potential of interesting/complex characters is arguably worse than brashly rolling out the stock we were already expecting.
The film isn’t a total loss, though. It has its comedic moments, most notable of which are Pomeroy’s gruff delivery of certain one-liners and his bitter exchanges with Colleen Peck (Keaton), an aging newswoman who’s every bit as spiteful as her newly hired co-host.
One thing that I found especially unfunny, though, is a recurring gag involving the show’s weatherman. His tendency to engage in slapstick comedy and hurl obscenities while riding roller coasters and leaping from airplanes was inexplicably grating.
This tendency to see-saw between varying degrees of seriousness and often errant attempts at humor ultimately results in the uneven tone mentioned earlier, and that’s too bad. Like a good glass of wine (and a well-written story), had this taken the time to develop of its own volition there’s a good chance we’d have been treated to a serviceable glimpse into the almost certainly overwhelming (and humorous) world of news media production.
out of 5
Check out a trailer for Morning Glory: