It's almost a ritual every morning that I turn on the TV to the breakfast programme Primetime Morning on Channel NewsAsia, just to scan through the ticker tape of news snippets, as well as to listen to the news headlines, in addition to business news and whatever lifestyle segments they put on from movies to music to celebrity interviews. For those curious to know a little bit about the happenings behind the scenes, involving an army and some meticulous preparation and decisions in addition to going live jitters, Morning Glory may just be right up your alley.
Sure there have been many such films that have been done countless of times over, but I guess it's always refreshing to see how another set of actors get put through what would be quite formulaic in treatment, and pull of a couple of laughs in this comedy when they hit the right spots. Directed by Roger Mitchell who gave us Changing Lanes and Notting Hill, based upon the story by Aline Brosh McKenna who was responsible for chick flicks such as 27 Dresses and The Devil Wears Prada, Morning Glory has Rachel McAdams playing the female protagonist Becky Fuller, a television producer who finds herself unceremoniously retrenched within the first 10 minutes of the show, and is essentially her journey through a second chance provided in her career to turn around the fortunes of a flagging morning TV show.
So throw in the usual plot devices such as comical side show characters who become her crew both in front and behind the camera, bickering anchors in an ex beauty queen turned presenter Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton), and world famous journalist Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) with the largest ego possible who got recruited by Becky through exploiting his contract, all coming together to make the magic of a morning show work, ever threatened by low ratings and an unpopular lineup of features. Add to that a romantic angle with another television producer Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson) and you have what's essentially a zero to hero flick chick that Aline Brosh McKenna had crafted consistently in her repertoire.
What worked was Rachel McAdams nailing her role as the extreme go-getter, being work obsessed and just about having everything else in her life put on the wayside. I feel this is something many workaholics will be able to identify with, and her comical struggles in trying to achieve that work-life/romantic balance, wanting to prove herself in this chance, and trying to gel a team whose morale is already rock bottom to steer in her direction of leading them to more respectable television ratings. Having veterans Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford opposite each other as bickering anchors also provided for much of the comedy in the film, and it's not everyday we see one being sprightly, and the other as the grouchy opposite.
What didn't work was how trivial the entire film became, in part being the sticking to formula that allowed you to keep one step ahead each time, without any surprises along the way. It's almost mechanical, and I wouldn't have minded that route if the more technical behind the scenes nature were touched upon, which it didn't of course. For all the potential of differences between Keaton and Ford's characters, it was really too little too late, and Patrick Wilson became nothing more than a caricature even though his character is romantic foil for McAdam's. For all the acting wealth at its disposal including Jeff Goldblum, almost everyone didn't go beyond the cardboard stereotypes.
The gem in this film is probably the banter between the rookie Becky Fuller and the egoistical veteran journalist Mike Pomeroy, as one tries to convince the other that the world had moved on, and it is no shame to evolve into another package for a different audience, coming from what seems to be a pedigree and privileged background built from years of experience. It's all about the teamwork and never about the individual, though the strengths from a single source could provide that added gravitas to boost the fortunes of the team. This film had its moments, but they are few and far between, being extremely light in treatment of its subject matter.