Morning Glory review by Tom Blain

It seems like I'm a glutton for punishment. On one hand, I tell myself that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is notoriously a bad time to see a movie in the theaters. Theatres usually have a slew of hot garbage spread across each screen (NYC may be an exception). On the other hand, my wife and I had the opportunity to see a movie and if you have a young child you know that's not an opportunity you want to pass up. So we knowingly paid roughly $10 a piece to see what we expected to be a less than average movie. That movie is called Morning Glory.

Less than average. Thats a solid 4 in my book. That's a movie with some redeeming qualities, just not enough to make you want to see it again. If it runs on TBS, you would stop for a moment but probably look for an alternate ship to jump on during commercials. Maybe a couple characters had a good interaction that made you chuckle. Possibly a few scenes were setup for some good laughs. A good four should have at least two of those scenes where you can remember being amused. And on top of everything else the storyline should be low on moments of disbelief or absurdity. I know in the movie world, that often times the absurd has to happen to progress a story and on some levels I can accept that, but there are other levels where absurd things happen because of poor writing.

So with all this in mind, expectations in place, I stepped into Morning Glory (money already burnt) expecting something around a 4 and I was ok with that. But thats not what happened...

To bring you up to speed... Morning Glory is centered around a character named Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) and Becky's dream to be producer of Good Morning America. Keep in mind this is not just her goal, but her dream. As her mother explains she has wanted this since she was a very little girl. Some girls want to be a princess. Others want to be the Little Mermaid. Becky wanted to be an executive producer? Right. Just like I wanted to be a software project manager since I was six. But as the script tells us, that dream never died.

After being the casualty of a layoff at her local "Wake Up You Jamokes!" in New Jersey, she starts her job hunt and finds work at the 4th rated national morning show. The show is fraught with issues including prima donna anchors like Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton, who I'm shocking myself as I type this is one of the redeeming players in this film). Their offices are filled with garbage, they get no credit from the outside world, their ratings suck, they get second hand guests, and so on and so forth. Becky tries to mix things up by wrangling in an ornery respected news man named Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford, in the Dan I'd-Rather-not mold). Pomeroy has hang-ups with being on a fluffy morning show and not reporting real news. He has integrity and believes in only the highest virtues of reporting the news. He lets you know this in a low, gruff voice, layered with insults that makes you feel all crackly and splintery on the inside. Imagine Smokey the Bear delivering the news to you in an old man mask; there now you have Harrison Fords Mike Pomeroy.

So Becky juggles this failing show in her business life. But in her personal life there is... her business life. It's all the same. The opening shows her on a first date with some dude. Within 5 minutes, it also becomes her last date with some dude. She talks her way out of a second date and into psycho zone in the amount of time it takes to microwave a Budget Gourmet TV dinner for one. Still, somehow later in the movie, she meets the chiseled, Aryan, Ivy-league-alma-mater, crew-rowin, all-sorts-of-female-attractin' Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson). In her first meeting with Patrick, she embarrasses herself by ogling over Mike Pomeroy. In her second meeting with Patrick, she gets scared off by a blonde and talks her way out of the situation awkwardly. {face palm} Patrick's response in their third meeting? "I know I shouldn't like you because you are married to your work, won't let me get a word in, act like a complete nut job around me, and have bangs longer than my tie. To top it all off I've got all sorts of women drooling over me ...but damnit I can't help but fall for you." I'm paraphrasing of course. At no point in the movie was there ever a scene where Becky revealed anything redeeming to Patrick that would give that relationship a shot in hell. At least give us a moment... a glimmer of hope. Give us some reason for him to fall for her. A fun drunken conversation where she loosens up? A moment where she lets him talk? But nothing. Most men in Patrick's situation would have recognized and labeled Becky as a head case and moved on. But somehow the movie gods made it so... and it bugged me for the next hour plus.

Other things that bugged me? Harrison Ford. It's been my experience that Harrison Ford can be funny in a movie that isn't funny; Star Wars and Indiana Jones come to mind. He turns on some sort of blue collar charisma and that carries him through his lighter scenes where he is often getting a little hot under the collar, and offers up some chuckles in an otherwise tense moment. But ask him to do a light film and I'm not sure he's 'the guy'. Ford built this grumbling old, bitter man character and carried that persona until the end of the film. He felt more bitter old conservative truck driver than he did decorated veteran star reporter with integrity. When he did try to sell himself as a sophisticated, worldly, cooker of frittatas it came off as uncomfortable and unbelievable. The character he created had one note even though it had been written deeper.

After an hour in the sparsely seated theater my wife and I noticed two people step out who never came back. Not a bad decision, because at the one hour point we wondered if it ever would get better. It did, but not enough. Annoying characters, not a great story, and contrived situations all made for a less than enjoyable experience.

LINKS:
* Roger Ebert must have seen a different movie. I'm seriously beginning to wonder. "Comedies open every week. This is the kind I like best. It grows from human nature and is about how people do their jobs and live their lives." That line I agree with him about. I like how the movie tries to tackle someone who is tethered to her job because its real. The problem is, that in executing the story reality gets thrown out the window in numerous ways. It could have worked.
* Harrison Ford on the Daily Show doesn't seem to be walking into a prepared Jon Stewart interview. Don't most hosts see the movie first so they can banter like a salesman?
* LA Times asks if we outgrew Harrison Ford. No. The guy is 68 years old, he outgrew us. He was mostly an action star and he can't jump out of speeding jeeps anymore. Most people with regular Joe-jobs retire by this point.



2 out of 10 Jackasses

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