POSTED ON NOVEMBER 17, 2010:
Hit the Snooze
No Morning Glory to be found in this bore of a flick
Needs To Wake Up. Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford star in Morning Glory. McAdams stars as Becky, a down-on-her-luck producer of a local morning show struggling for ratings.
If there is one element of mass media that is rife for some vicious satire, it's early morning television shows. The shows are stuffed with assorted celebrity puff-piece promotional interviews, inspirational feel-good stories, cooking instruction, endless weather updates, healthy doses of gossip and every so often there is even some news.
These shows exist as background noise for people struggling to begin their day, parents getting kids dressed and fed, or early risers who don't have a satellite dish, yet want to watch something. It's a shallow, vapid, superficial product, while being a cheap-to-produce, sure-fired moneymaker and ratings monster.
I am obviously not the target audience for "The Today Show" or "Good Morning America," and I never have been. I have vivid memories of when I was a kid, wiping the sleep out of the corners of my eyes, about to head out to my spot on the two-lane road to get on the bus at 7:35am and having one of these shows on the TV. Every school day, this was my routine, and without fail, my day would begin with me being extremely irritated by the overly chipper co-host blathering on about how wonderful everything looked in the world. Little has changed over the years, as I will turn the channel as fast as I possibly can to avoid a glimpse of one of these shows every network has in its stable.
Morning Glory is a comedy set in the universe of the morning talk show and it's not good. It takes a golden opportunity to give a healthy dose of mockery of this particular style of television and squanders it from start to finish. Instead of satire, Morning Glory chooses the safe, warm-hearted route, knowing that the audience drawn to actually watch the film is likely people who tune into these shows each morning. Why would producers willingly choose to attack the hand that is making them money? They don't. Morning Glory ends up being lightweight, unfunny and watered-down. Hey, doesn't that describe the morning TV shows themselves?
Becky (Rachel McAdams) is a never sleeping, always working producer of "Good Morning Jersey," a show so typical of this kind of fare, the footage might as well have been borrowed from the archives of any channel on the east coast. Becky gets up at 1:30am to make it to work for the 4am start. The staff are yawning, exhausted sleep-zombies who actually fall asleep on air. Becky is sure she's about to get a big promotion, but when she's canned, all the hard work, sacrifices and sleeplessness seems to be for naught. Even Mom tells her to give up on her dreams -- thanks a lot, Mom.
Becky swamps everyone in the region who might need a producer with multiple resumes and phone calls. Her desperation lasts about a minute of screen time before she gets an interview for IBS, a crappy network with a fourth-rated hole of a show called "Daybreak" that might need a jolt of life to save it from being cancelled. Despite Becky's interviewing technique that is a combination of endless babbling and naive promises, she's given the keys to control "Daybreak" because it can't get much worse for the show, right?
Morning Glory is not trying to raise the bar, so there are trials and tribulations coming toward Becky from every direction. There's romantic complications hindered by the fact Becky can never turn off the deeply imbedded "producers" gene that makes her phone constantly ring and her roving attention span focus on future segments. When she hires the smug, full-of-himself former news anchor Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), Becky really has to earn her paycheck.
One of the only bright spots in Morning Glory is the Mike Pomeroy character. Watching Ford play someone so gruffly superior than the rest of the crew has some entertainment value. He's a pompous windbag, stating all the journalism awards he's won over his career, each and every one a statement against what he's agreed to do on "Daybreak" to get that $6 million dollar check. Ford gives Pomeroy's on-air character a lot of eye-rolls, double takes and silent anger as he sits in his chair, oblivious to the fact he's a major part of the show. Pomeroy's curmudgeonly behavior isn't always comedy success, but it at least has some bite to it.
There is a brief montage about two-thirds of the way into the movie that gave me some hope. It's an eight-or-so minute stretch where all the hosts start doing crazy, participatory stories. These brief scenes are funny because they tie into that good ol' American mentality popularized by Jackass -- we enjoy seeing people frightened, doing harmful or stupid things. These scenes include things such as the weatherman riding a roller-coaster or skydiving with attached camera, Diane Keaton's co-host in a fat suit wrestling an actual sumo or literally making out with a frog. After this quick burst of scenes that produce actual big laughs, Morning Glory heads back to shelter, where no more laughs are to come.
McAdams, whose built a career on various characters strong on fluff, attempts to dazzle us with an onslaught of perky. Becky is an energetic, fast-talking ball of optimism and pep. Her managerial style and McAdams' acting choices for this character makes it seem like she's just shot-gunned a half-dozen Red Bulls as director Roger Michell hollers out, "Action!" and off McAdams goes! This non-stop moving, fidgeting with her bangs, talking and talking and talking occurs at work, on a job interview, if she's out on a date or about to score with her quasi-boyfriend. It lasts the entire film. It's tiresome.
Morning Glory just doesn't go for the jugular. It doesn't even deliver a kick in the shins. Not a single time does writer Aline Brosh McKenna give us anything other than obvious, safe, middle-of-the-road portrayals of this world and the people who work there. Throw away the short montage of zany behavior and there are few laughs to be distilled. Much of the on-screen dialogue and character interaction is labored and there's a frantic quality to the entire production that it never shakes.
When I found out I was reviewing Morning Glory, I didn't want my memories influencing my opinion, so I recorded and watched "The Today Show." Sometimes, you think back at childhood beliefs and wonder, "What was I thinking?" After suffering through an hour of train-wreck television, I have to admit, I was a pretty smart little kid. Watching Morning Glory didn't give me any more appreciation for this genre of television. Maybe it's just me, clearly not the right demographic, and you know what? I'm okay with that.
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