What’s wrong with being happy?
Contrary to the evidence presented in adult-focused movies, you might never know there are happy people out there. It’s true. I’ve ignored them at parties. But I never see them on-screen.
In “Morning Glory,” Rachel McAdams plays a lemons-to-lemonade go-getter named Becky Fuller, with all the spritely dewiness that such a wide-eyed name conjures. Addicted to work and hapless in love, she lands her dream job as a producer on a last-place network morning show. Her overenthusiastic job interview leads her boss (Jeff Goldblum) to ask, “Are you going to sing?” She seems less like a news producer and more like an auditioner for “Glee.”
McAdams’ unicorn attitude meets her non-match in Mike Pomeroy, IBS’ former nightly news anchor and resident black cloud. Having grumbled his way out of the network’s anchor job, he acquiesces to Fuller’s request to join the morning show. Cooking demonstrations and light banter with Diane Keaton really aren’t his thing, at least not on camera. A spiritual battle of wills ensues between McAdams’ girly bangs and Ford’s gravel-bed voice for the integrity of the show.
The infinitely up-with-life McAdams will draw comparisons to Holly Hunter in “Broadcast News” (and Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl”). However Hunter’s energetic producer was trying to preserve the integrity of the newsroom. She would have regarded McAdams’ sweetie-pie infotainment whippersnapper as the face of evil. McAdams doesn’t win her battles because she’s right. She wins because she’s so darn likable. Lowering your standards isn’t just a survival strategy; it’s good for you! “Good Night, and Good Luck” this is not.
“Morning Glory” seems like it should be better, like the whole is less than the sum of its parts. The script, by “The Devil Wears Prada” scribe Aline Brosh McKenna, feels smart – or perhaps just educated – but predictable. When Ford cooks up a frittata in front of McAdams at his apartment, everyone knows it’s destined to show up at an important moment later in the film. (Everyone except the producer, strangely, who’s on the lookout for any soft news contribution that he might make to the program.) The occasional comedy breakthroughs point out how much fun you’re not having the rest of the time.
McAdams is a perky natural at the one speed that the script and director Roger Michell has to offer her, but sometimes she leaves footprints of “acting.” Ford is a real treat, dispensing one-line wisdom from his cold, dead tongue. That said, I never quite settled into their relationship, as it has less to do with reality than script manipulation.
Like its irrepressible lead “Morning Glory” is trying too hard to please. I like what it is trying to do more than what it has done.