Morning Glory (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
10Mar/111

Morning Glory (2010)

ANDREW LIKEThere's a great romance at the center of Morning Glory that I didn't anticipate.  It wasn't between our female and male leads, though there is one and has some great chemistry.  No, it wasn't between the longstanding rivals, tensions breaking down as they finally admit love to one another (thankfully they keep their hatred until the bitter end).  The great love on display in Morning Glory is between a woman and her job.

That is the perfect level to pitch the film on.  Too many times we get the perfunctory scenes of betrayal and reconciliation in romantic comedies and we wait for that slow motion sequence where man and woman fall in together and all is right with the world.  This film is way too smart to do something like that.  We get a slow motion sequence where Becky (Rachel McAdams) runs to a building instead and when the film is over we think, "Yeah, that's just right."

She is a driven TV show producer who functions easily on four hours of sleep and has deep enthusiasm and love for her job.  Early on she's let go from Good Morning New Jersey and after a desperate search accepts a job on the sinking ship DayBreak.  Her new boss Jerry (the always welcome Jeff Goldblum) is pretty clear about her chances for success but she takes to the job naturally.

Rachel McAdams threatened to melt my television with her charm a number of times. By Zeus that girl is something.

There are complications as in any good drama/comedy.  Becky has to deal with an overactive staff led by the domineering and tired Colleen (Diane Keaton), an alternately blossoming/floundering romance with office hottie Adam (Patrick Wilson), and the threat of cancellation if ratings don't go up.  She gets the bright idea of bringing her hero Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) out of retirement to try and bring some spice into the morning routine, but has to deal with his massive superiority complex first.

There's your standard array of complications both romantic and professional but this movie never gets bogged down in any sort of negativity, nor does it hit you over the head with overly romantic optimism.  These are all professionals who have a job to do and it just so happens that they do it very well and entertainingly to boot.  Really, when was the last time we had a movie that realized how fascinating and fun it can be to let people be themselves where they work?  Too long, sadly.

The cast is uniformly excellent and I must confess that I fall in love with Rachel McAdams every time I see her in a new movie.  Her Becky is so effortlessly lovable and smart that I can't imagine the dark soul that would wish harm upon her.  The supporting cast is also great, but the other brunt of the credit must go to Harrison Ford.  He gets accused of phoning his performances in so much that watching his measured cadence as he tries to crush her optimism about the business is a real delight.

I also loved the weatherman's relentless pursuit of a story about weather-vanes.

But right now it seems like we'd have the ingredients for a peppy drama but not quite a comedy.  Thank God for the amazing script that Aline Brosh McKenna brought to the table.  It's smart but not so technical in TV production terms that no one could follow it, it's sentimental while still realizing that these are real people that have bad days, and it's frequently hilarious and smart as a tack.  I was trying to keep up with the epigrams that she flung in our direction (on past experiences when a guy likes her and he takes his pants off, "I guess you don't really want to talk about my CD collection or Kerouac.")

Or the absurd things that folks who do the weather have to do to keep our attention.  Or the wonderful backstage rivalries.  Or so many things I loved about the writing in this film.

I'd also like to fling a little credit to director Roger Michell.  He's responsible for one of the best thrillers ever made (Changing Lanes) and has made a career out of making films that subtly redirect the standard tropes of the genre he is filming in (Notting Hill, Enduring Love).  By keeping a focus squarely on Becky and her job he kept the spirit of the script intact and let the wonderful positive energy flow through in filming.  He's a very under-appreciated director and this is a smart comedy that didn't get nearly enough box office love.

So go and rent Morning Glory this weekend.  Really, what else do you need?  Flawless performances, spirited direction, a great script and a number of excellent non-James Brown or Aretha Franklin soul tunes populating the soundtrack.  Smart folks still make smart comedies, let's reward this one while we can.

Morning Glory (2010)
Directed by Roger Michell.
Screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna.
Starring Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson and Jeff Goldblum.

Posted by Andrew

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  1. After reading your review, I moved it up in my queue. I was on the fence about it but will definitely check it out now. I also agree with you 100% about Changing Lanes.


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