Thursday, 10 February 2011

Morning Glory

2010. Dir: Roger Michell. Starring: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson and Jeff Goldblum. ●●●○○

Formulas are meant to work, they are meant to work because the plot is tried and tested with a million other examples in the relevant genre. They work because we, as an audience, often don't want much more than the formula. In Morning Glory writer Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) both know that formula and work very hard to follow it. They should have tried something different. The formula restricts them so much that the great chemistry and situations are buried under the relentless forward motion of the plot contrivances.

Of course the plot does not have an original twist in it's 107 minute running time. Rachel McAdams, as perky as possible, plays a workaholic TV producer who gets the enviable job of trying to save Daybreak (no, not that one) the ailing breakfast news programme on IBS (couldn't thay have found better initial than that). Recognising things have to change shesacks the pervy male anchor and replaces him with grumpy high-minded journo Harrison Ford. In the meantime she's in the early stages of a relationship with current affairs producer Patrick Wilson.

Does the show get to the magic share that will stop Jeff Goldblum's exec cancelling it? Will Ford and co-anchor Diane Keaton put away their differences and work together as a team? Will Wilson and McAdams find a way to co-exist with the demands of their high pressure jobs? We know the answers to these - they all fit within the formula.

On the plus side, other than the bleeding obvious throughline of the movie, just about everything work fine. The comic element works well throughout with some choice one-liners from the older cast and the occasional bout of slapstick, the romance seems a little tagged on but both McAdams and Wilson are beautiful people and you can't help hoping it will be OK for them in the long run, although frankly I have my doubts. The audience that were hoping for Broadcast News level bite at the dumbing down of hard journalism shouldn't be too disappointted as the thesis seems to me to suggest that - in Breakfast anyway - the big story should be able to rub shoulders with culture.

The cast all put in fine work, with Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford particulary proving what great comedic performers they are; she's all ditzy and charming, he's deadpan with solid timing.

For a change I'd like to suggest how this film could have been significantly better. Instead of showing the arc of the characters over several months I believe we could have followed behind the scenes during one morning show, from the pre-production meeting to the final credits. I think the same beats could've been hit, and the emotional storyline for the characters who learn might have had a better chance of translating with the audience if it were a single day of getting there. The jokes would also have had more time to develop. Any Hollywood producers who agree just give me a call and we can discuss Morning Glory 2.

Overall the film was pleasant enough viewing in spite of it's straitjacket. I fully expect this to be the best romantic comedy I see this year.

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