In these empty, dark January days, sure, you can go and see Biutiful, a heavy drama by Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu (he from that uplifting film 21 Grams) about death, crime and poverty, starring art house favorite Javier Bardem. And although you can go and brag that you saw ‘one of the most important films of the year’, it won’t really make you feel better. You can also hop over to the nearest multiplex and buy a ticket for Morning Glory, a little lightweight comedy from the director of Notting Hill (Roger Michell) that will see you walk out of the cinema with a big smile on your face, charged up to face the cold darkness of winter again.
Morning Glory is the story of young television producer Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) charged with reinvigorating failing breakfast show Daybreak on an imaginary fourth US network. In order to gain the ratings she needs to keep the show on air she pairs Daybreak veteran anchor Diane Keaton with esteemed retired journalist Harrison Ford. And it is this coupling that proves a golden stroke. Keaton is hilarious as the ageing TV-star willing to do anything on air, whereas Ford acts out a middle-aged Han Solo in a mid life crisis. His character has the same cynical bravura as his famous Star Wars persona, but is fuelled with a rage of disappointment and superiority. Between them Ford and Keaton fire off cheek-flushing zingers, live on television. Their ongoing battle for having the last ‘goodbye’ of the show is comedy gold.
Meanwhile McAdams does a fine job being the anchor and moral centre of the story. And although the design, music and cinematography all scream ‘romantic comedy’, Becky’s developing romance with a colleague (Patrick Wilson) is just a minor plot strand on the side that solely serves to highlight her dedication to the job. The central relationship here is the one between McAdams and Ford, the latter serving as a stand-in father figure (albeit a really bad one).
In the margins, enough fun is to be had with t-shirts, doorknobs and the stereotyped cast and crew of Daybreak. The only real drawback in the film is the abuse of the great Jeff Goldblum, who plays the network executive that pesters Becky for ratings. Much more could have been made of his role and his relationship to the Daybreak television program.
Morning Glory is a lighter version of more classic films about television journalism such as Broadcast News (1987). But it is no less funny or enjoyable. Like McAdams remarks to a grumpy Ford: “The battle between news and entertainment is over. Entertainment won.”