Published: November 10, 2010
Directed by Roger Michell
Opens Nov. 12
Having a journalist review Morning Glory is a little like having a train conductor review Unstoppable: We’re essentially the butt of the joke. At the very least, though, screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna deserves snaps for using the central crisis facing the entire journalism industry today—other than the whole “profit” thing—as a knee-slapping punchline on which to hang her script.
Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams), a workaholic morning TV show producer in New Jersey, gets canned when her station cuts back and chooses to replace her with—shudder—a dual journalism/business major, only a slight exaggeration of the industry’s continual contraction and systemic flushing of talented individuals in favor of hacks. Fuller, whose main goal in life is to produce The Today Show, eventually lands at a horrible New York City morning show, co-anchored by bitter ex-beauty queen Colleen Peck (played with delicious bitchiness by Diane Keaton).
When Fuller unexpectedly needs to find a new co-anchor, she opts for Harrison Ford’s Mike Pomeroy. Just one problem: the Mike Wallace-esque former evening news anchor is a journalist with a capital “J,” and he has nothing but disdain for morning television’s hokey fluff pieces. “The news is a sacred temple,” he growls at Fuller when she strong-arms him into co-hosting, which inspires one of several snappy conversations about hard news versus entertainment, a battle which, Fuller concludes with a smile, “Your side lost.”
It’s a bit confusing that Fuller works so damn hard at a job that she acknowledges actively avoids gravitas—but this, too, mirrors many of today’s media outlets, which are understaffed and underfunded whether producing political commentary or home decorating tips. To McAdams’ great credit, you root for her as the harried, eternally optimistic heroine. But despite McKenna’s obvious desire for the audience to pull for Pomeroy to come around to Fuller’s successful plan to up ratings with daredevil stunts and on-air insults, you might find yourself supporting every one of his crabby convictions—thanks to Ford’s spot-on portrayal of a droll drunk who trades caustic insults with Keaton one minute and waxes rhapsodic about “placing a cool washcloth on Mother Teresa’s forehead during a cholera epidemic” the next.
Yes, despite Morning Glory’s ultimately depressing commentary on modern journalism, the movie feels smart and deeply funny. Too bad it celebrates journalism today instead of satirizing it.