Sunday, November 14, 2010

Higgens Network: Morning Glory

Bare in mind, that we all know Broadcast News exists. That’s a fantastic romantic comedy that played with convention while still being very funny. Morning Glory isn’t trying to be Broadcast News; it has more in common to be the next The Devil Wears Prada, which isn’t a coincidence since they have the same screenwriter.

Rachel McAdams gives another strong performance as Becky, a chipper neurotic news producer. She was in charge of a small morning show in New Jersey, but was laid off for budgetary reasons. Desperate, she applies to every show in the area. The only one she can get is Daybreak, another morning show that is unhappily ranked 4th in the ratings.

The show has been rotating producers because no one can get it to work. Instead of falling into the usual tropes, Becky does not get overwhelmed by the difficult nature of the show. She immediately fires Modern Family’s ­­­­­­­Ty Burrell and starts to find a new anchor to match up with Diane Keaton’s “Colleen Peck.” She goes through a ton of network legal documents to discover she can use Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford). He has been a beloved news correspondent for decades, but now he’s become infamous to work with.

Roping him into Daybreak is not the jumpstart the show needs. He refuses to take part in all of the frivolous segments or be helpful to anyone on the crew. Ford’s performance really reminded me of how he is during interviews. He’s annoyed at the praise from his past performance and just seems bitter. Yet Ford knows how to play that for some solid comedy and an honest performance.

The story is too conventional. There are no surprises at any turn because when it presents Becky with a fork in the road of A and B, it’s always the overly traveled A. This really applies to the relationship subplot with Patrick Wilson, which is too separate from the story. There is nothing to challenge, which means most of the details of the movie will fade over the years.

The lasting power of the movie is the tone it creates. It’s a very solid cast and the movie has a surprisingly competent visual style to it. Cinematographer Alwin H. Kuchler has been on an impressive run lately with Sunshine and director Roger Michell has done some unconventional films since his Notting Hill days, including Changing Lanes and Enduring Love. Together they experiment with shots and movement to subtly add some nuances to the storytelling.

Beyond just the technical elements, there is a clear sense of fun to this movie. It’s light and not very ambitious, but it provides for a lot of solid laughs and an enjoyable use of its time.

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