Imagine the idealists of 1987's "Broadcast News" in the New Media Age. They've given up "important" in pursuit of "numbers." They avoid the term "journalism" and embrace the "fluff."
That’s the conceit behind “Morning Glory,” a barely serviceable romantic comedy about a perky, failing morning news show producer and the grizzled mismatched anchors she can never quite keep happy, on or off the air.
The Roger Michell film is a decent vehicle for Rachel McAdams, perky and a bit manic as Becky Fuller, a downsized New Jersey morning show producer who lands on her feet at a network gig. But it’s not her dream job, “Today” on NBC. It’s at the ratings cellar dweller, “Daybreak,” the one show rated “below whatever that thing is on CBS” in the morning, according to her new boss (Jeff Goldblum).
“We’re just like the ‘Today’ show, just without the numbers or universal respect.’”
Becky enters the dank basement studio and office — a nice metaphor — and tries to make a bad situation better by diving straight into the dysfunction. She fires one anchor and fails to impress the other, a former beauty queen and a real diva, played with flighty, mean-spirited energy by Diane Keaton.
“You will fail,” Colleen (Keaton) coos. “Like everyone else.”
If only Becky can find a replacement anchor with the stature to make the show “news.” If only that new co-anchor wasn’t “legendary” TV newsman Mike Pomeroy, who hates “fluff” and drinks and never lets anybody forget that he was forced out to pasture with this new gig.
If only he weren’t played by the un-anchorish Harrison Ford. Have you ever stayed awake through a PBS documentary Ford has narrated? He has the hoarse whisper of a horse whisperer. The head and shoulders say “gravitas,” but the voice and presentation do not say “communicator.” Even the slurring Tom Brokaw and drawling Dan Rather had that.
Becky’s fight to save the show and save her career follows a predictable path, though Michell – the director of “Notting Hill,” “Venus” and “Enduring Love” – manages to maintain the mystery of whether any of this will work out.
There also is a generic love interest for our workaholic “first in, last to leave” producer. He’s played by the generic beau in many a romantic comedy, Patrick Wilson. He has more to play here, he just doesn’t bring the snark along to give the character an edge.
Goldblum was well cast, but he dials down his tics and manic patter. Keaton registers well, though, doing a version of Diane Sawyer that the hazy glow of ABC’s soft focus never shows.
McAdams, with her big eyes and idealism holds the picture together and makes the most of her funniest lines. She’s clueless about men: “I don’t know if a man is interested in me until I see him naked.”
It’s a pleasant enough time killer, but “Morning Glory” doesn’t come close to reaching the level of “must see,” at least on the big screen. Even the fluff feels recycled here.
** 1/2 **
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Wilson
Director: Roger Michell
Running time: 1:42
Rating: PG-13; sexual content including dialogue, language, drug references