Thursday, 27 January 2011

Morning Glory

Midway through Morning Glory, perky, ambitious producer Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) confronts grouchy veteran anchor Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) about the true value of television broadcasting. Do you feed people bran, she asks, something that's healthy but ultimately tedious, or a sweet, fluffy doughnut, which offers immediate, if short-lived, gratification?

Such a comparison could be levelled at Roger Michell's new film in its entirety. If Morning Glory ultimately veers more towards sugary, forgettable confection as opposed to substantial, intelligent nourishment, it's no less enjoyable for it, benefiting from solid casting in the central quarters and a vein of nicely caustic humour that prevents it from drowning in too much syrup.

Much of the latter in fact stems from Ford himself. On his finest form in years, the actor appears to be doing little more than channeling his real personality, face hewn like Mount Rushmore's more rugged cousin and voice set to a perpetual growl. If this is what it takes for Ford to fully engage an audience however, he should consider doing it for the rest of his career; somehow he makes this ageing, miserable chauvinist lothario both hilariously funny and immensely likeable.

His sparring with McAdams lies at the heart of the film, although it takes a while to reach the juicy, jam-laden centre. At the start, McAdams' Becky is fired from her job; having sent her resume around to all the television stations in the New Jersey and New York area, she is finally picked up for an executive producer spot on struggling breakfast show Daybreak (British viewers will see an irony there) by an uncharacteristically slimy Jeff Goldblum. He has no faith in Becky's assertion that she will boost the ratings by essentially blackmailing Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ford to appear as anchor on the show alongside Diane Keaton.

But then, daft pipe dreams are what Hollywood's made of, and make no mistake, Morning Glory has little interest in exposing the bleary-eyed, backbreaking world of morning television. McAdams for one never looks like she's more than a step away from the make-up tent but when she demonstrates this much pluck and pizazz, we can overlook that. And once she starts sparring with Ford, she's cooking with gas.

There are problems. The higher profile support cast (including Keaton and Patrick Wilson as McAdams' bit of stuff) are given little to do aside from the odd amusing set-piece (the frog-kissing scene generates a priceless reaction from Ford) and it's a shame that cynicism is replaced by a predictable cooking against the clock climax. It's less station satire than smart sitcom but it's infinitely more enjoyable and easier to digest than yet another crude, so-called bromance comedy.

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