McAdams is a young, spirited TV producer Becky Fuller, who we first witness being let go from her New Jersey morning show when the company is forced to downsize. She manages to score a job on below-par morning news show Daybreak (any similarities between its real-life, almost identical UK doppelganger is entirely coincidental). Haemorrhaging viewers by the week, the young executive immediately resolves to turn around the show’s dwindling audience and promptly fires female presenter Colleen Peck’s (Keaton – relaxed and graceful) boorish and pervy co-anchor, and hires Mike Pomeroy (Ford), a veteran newscaster who bemoans the position he’s found himself, doing his best to sabotage Fuller’s best efforts by generally behaving like a old, petty curmudgeon (at one point he refuses to utter the word “fluffy”, claiming he’s offended by it!).
Fuller soon finds herself as referee between Peck and Pomeroy while struggling to maintain a relationship with a fellow employee (played by Watchmen’s Patrick Wilson), to save her reputation, her job and ultimately, the show itself.
Can you guess the outcome? Sure, Morning Glory may be predictable and a tad formulaic, but despite this (and having a soundtrack that sounds like it’s been sourced from Magic FM), these minor shortcomings never distract from all the fun to be had here. It’s the kind of light comedy that Hollywood does so well with the right kind of talent attached, and the film certainly comes with a solid pedigree of talent in front, and behind, the camera. Although not an obvious choice of film to brandish the Bad Robot insignia when it springs up pre-credits, Producer J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost and Star Trek) certainly has his fingerprints over the production – from its tight and economical pacing, it the choices made in casting and direction.
Roger Michell is no stranger to this type of mainstream populist comedy (he fully cemented Hugh Grant’s reputation as Brit love interest for hire in Notting Hill) and like that film, he possesses the same, sure-footed approach here. It’s also no surprise to learn that the film was scripted by The Devil Wears Prada’s Aline Brosh McKenna. We have the same device of the plucky woman trying to make it regardless of her older, seasoned colleagues.
McAdams is her usual, appealing down-to-earth self. It’s a performance which really has you rooting for her character, as she desperately battles to improve on audience figures, whilst faced with the daily tribulation of trying to appease and pacify her two anchors. Her sweet determined nature shines through.
The biggest success casting-wise however is Ford, who is more fun here than he has been in decades, playing the pompous and cranky veteran who speaks in a perpetual growl and can’t help but continuously refer back to the more distinguished and prestigious past career he’s lived. The character could have so easily fallen into a clichéd look at bitterness and arrogance, but Ford is never OTT. His delivery is pitched perfect and his constant putdowns are often extremely biting, yet incredibly funny. It’s also nice to see that the makers don’t try and shoe-horn in a late romance between him and Keaton either.
The film loses a little narrative grip towards the end (and some of its bite) when McAdams is able to push through Pomeroy’s tough exterior to find a wounded soul underneath, but it’s to the actor’s credit (especially Ford) that it doesn’t turn into an out and out mushfest!
Bolstered by an appealing supporting cast (which also includes Jeff Goldblum as McAdams’ exasperated boss), in many ways Morning Glory is conventional, sugar-coated Hollywood fare, but it’s never less than thoroughly enjoyable.
Morning Glory is released in the UK cinemas TODAY!