Undeniably charming and refreshingly old-fashioned, Roger Michell’s Morning Glory is a surprisingly entertaining throwback that tackles the oft-told tale of a young girl who goes off to conquer the big city, finds love along the way and just happens to remain hopelessly optimistic despite the many obstacles thrown in her way. Yes, we’ve been down this road before – Working Girl and Broadcast News come to mind while watching this film. And while Glory is not quite as good as those two films, it’s buoyed by a luminous performance by Rachel McAdams and an entertaining turn from Harrison Ford, an unlikely screen pair that clicks.
Fledgling television producer Becky (McAdams) may lack experience in the Manhattan media world but she makes up for that with a sense of enthusiasm that would charm the most cynical. Good thing, because she’s taken on a job no one wants, overseeing Daybreak, a dismal morning show that’s perpetually a distant fourth in the ratings, has little in the way of budget and is undercut by the ego of its anchor Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton). In an effort to give the show some dignity, Becky approaches esteemed newsman Mike Pomeroy (Ford) and offers him the co-anchor seat. The curmudgeon scoffs at the idea but a contract stipulation forces him to take the job, a move that Becky winds up regretting all too soon.
The contrast between Becky and Mike is the film’s strongest element and the two performers are obviously relishing every moment they have together. McAdams is charm personified here. She gives Becky a sense of optimism that’s unflappable, backed up by a degree of strength that makes her a force to be reckoned with. The actress takes a character that could come off as cloying and needy and gives us a heroine we wind up cheering for.
Meanwhile, Ford gives a very canny performance, once more playing a gruff taskmaster who buries his softer side. However, this time the actor shines in many small moments that show us that what lies beneath Mike’s bluster is a man in pain, unsure how to connect with others and looking for purpose. Watch Ford in the film’s climax when Mike does an on-air about face and you’ll see an actor deftly playing out a series of delicate emotions to genuine effect. It’s a moving moment and one of Ford’s best.
To be sure, the film stumbles a bit at the end and there’s nothing strikingly original about any of it. However, the sharp comic timing of the cast, the likable characters as penned by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and the spark between McAdams and Ford make Morning Glory one of the most delightful and surprising films of the season. There’s nothing more in store here but sheer entertainment and that’s more than enough.
Contact Chuck Koplinski at email@example.com.