Eleven years ago, Brit director Roger Michell gave us Notting Hill, one of the best romantic comedies of the '90s. Genre-wise, Michell has been all over the map since then but returns to similarly light territory with Morning Glory, albeit with less than successful results.
Morning Glory is not a rom-com. Our heroine, Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) has little time for romance, as focussed as she is on succeeding in the highly-competitive breakfast television arena. As the newly-appointed producer of Daybreak, the perennially fourth-running show in a race of four, and having fired one of her anchors on day one, Becky needs a new co-host to sit opposite Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton in a thankless role), and a miracle to save the show and her ass.
That miracle comes in the unlikely form of Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford at his most grizzly), a serious television journalist from the old school of reporting who's basically coasting out his contract with the network. That contract features a loophole which enables Becky to force Mike into the vacant co-anchor's chair, and what begins as a foolhardy experiment starts to pay off when audience interest increases due to the barely contained hostilities displayed between Colleen and Mike.
And Morning Glory could have been a lot more fun had it run with this war of the roses. Keaton and, somewhat surprisingly, Ford have excellent comic chops which Ford gets to work-out to good effect as the cantankerous old newsman. Keaton's role, however, seems to have been severely reduced in the editing room.
McAdams, always a welcome screen presence, also has chemistry with Ford but thankfully Michell and his writer, Aline Brosh McKenna, avoid any May-December shenanigans between the two. She does, however, have a romantic interest in fellow network employee Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson), but he's given only slightly more to work with than Keaton.
What the film does do is successfully skewer the vacuousness that is breakfast television. And anyone who has watched Channel 7's Sunrise knows this isn't endemic to American TV. But that is countered somewhat by Becky's success in her job, a success that comes from exploiting said vacuity at the expense of real news. It's something even the battle-hardened Mike will have to succumb to in order to save the show – dignity be damned!
There's no denying Morning Glory is enjoyable fare, but its this underlying ideology that leaves an unpleasant aftertaste, particularly for those of us who fear the continual dumbing down of our traditional media sources in response to a perceived attempt to compete with new media. That's no laughing matter and it shouldn't be championed.