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Review: Morning Glory

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If there’s anything the entertainment industry loves to talk about, it’s themselves. Movies about making movies, TV shows about making TV shows, or, in this case, movies about making TV, are always the most buzzed about projects within the industry. The thing is, no matter how interesting people in the industry think their jobs are, most people couldn’t give a damn what goes on behind the scenes.

This would be the reason why most of these movies, besides a few notable exceptions, are gigantic financial failures. But along comes Morning Glory with a trio of bankable actors and the production bona fides of J.J. Abram’s Bad Robot. Is that compelling enough to buck the trend and make Morning Glory engaging for all audiences?

Becky (Rachel McAdams) is a news producer for a small-time New Jersey morning show. She’s the type that gets up ridiculously early, sacrifices all her free time, and is insanely committed to her career. But, of course, budget cutbacks happen and eventually she is fired. After loads of self pity and second guessing, Becky winds up landing a gig as the executive producer of the worst performing national news show on the fictional IBS Network.  From there on out, it becomes her mission to take the dumpy, 4th rated show and turn it into the best she can. That includes teaming kooky news anchor Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) with old-school reporter Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), with disastrous results.

As a premise, the story is actually quite intriguing. Small town girl balances work and life while overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. And it’s got TV! Well, actually, in this case the film does make the behind-the-scenes of the TV world look interesting. Sure, it’s not done as elegantly as others films have done it before, but it’s palatable and accessible for everyone. Anyone who has felt their work take over the rest of their lives will find a storyline to sympathize with. And isn’t that the purpose of seeing a movie in the first place?

But, in practice, the entire film hangs on the performances of the actors. Your enjoyment of each scene will actually be determined almost solely by who is present. Rachel McAdams does a wonderful job, nailing the quirky/obsessed girl, while Diane Keaton is delightfully smug. Harrison Ford, however, is unbelievably stiff and awkward. The gravitas that he tries to infuse in his character is so powerfully off-putting that he breaks the entire reality of the film. You will no longer be able to suspend your disbelief when he is on screen, instead filling your head with questions about how in the world this happened to such an actor.  It isn’t that Ford is such a terrible actor, but rather that he just tries to sell it too hard. That and the fact that he would never make compelling reporter.

In fact, the film is so strangely unaware of how poorly Ford’s character is portrayed that it feels like a different world altogether. We, as an audience, simply cannot see the greatness that everyone within the reality of the film sees in Ford. That uncanny valley between what we see in Ford and how others react to him essentially threatens the continuity of the film, damaging your enjoyment of it immensely.

It’s hard to say that one actor, who isn’t even the main character, could spoil a whole film, but in this case it’s true. McAdams tries her best, and the script is actually quite solid, but the persistent growl of Ford will make even the biggest fan of this film cringe. It’s not a terrible movie by far, but it is an awful shame that such a small element could cast negativity on overall quality product.

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Morning Glory reviewed by Robin Barr

6

ALL RIGHT

Slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy it a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.
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