Watching the morning news is something I used to avoid. Since getting together with my now-wife however, it’s become part of the daily routine, as she’s always watching something, since she writes for a local paper. Even when she’s not home, while I’m getting ready for the day the news is on. While it may just be the local broadcast, I’m even more thankful that I’m not subjecting myself to the likes of the morning variety shows. Oh, you know, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Live with Regis and Kelly. However, if any of these were akin to the likes of “Day Break” in this week’s Morning Glory, I may find myself tuning in just to witness the daily trainwreck.
While our morning news team of choice may not be particularly award worthy, they get the job done and there’s only two anchors you wish would quit their day job. While J.J. Abrams has not dipped his toes in the waters of this world, he definitely has immersed himself in TV Land. From Felicity, Alias, Lost and now Undercovers, he knows what makes for good television. So it’s no wonder that we find him producing Aline Brosh McKenna’s (Devil Wears Prada) hilariously original script. Even director Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Changing Lanes) may seem an unlikely choice but he brings the madcap behind-the-scenes shenanigans to life with a light and fluffy exuberance keeping a smile on your face when you’re not laughing out loud.
In Morning Glory, we find Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) ruining a first date as her phone consistently rings. It turns out that Becky is the producer for “Good Morning New Jersey.” Waking up every morning at 1:30 a.m. is plenty to show her dedication in the film medium until the day she thinks she’s getting a promotion. Instead the show gets handed over to some over-educated kid named Chip and Becky finds herself out of a job and stalking other shows with a bombardment of resumes and follow up phone calls.
On the verge of thinking all hope is lost (even her mom (Patti D’Arbanville) thinks she’s too much of an overachiever), she gets called in for an interview with Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum) of IBS. After thinking she’s screwed herself over, Jerry calls her on her way out of the building and offers an Executive Producer credit to the downtrodden “Day Break” morning show. Her first order of business is firing the smarmy porn addicted co-anchor Paul McVee (Ty Burrell) but now she needs a new co-host.
Becky finds a loophole in Mike Pomeroy’s (Harrison Ford) contract where if offered an official position and he turns it down they have the right to fire him and he loses out on $6 million. With her new ragtag band of a morning news team also including the egotistical but game Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) and weatherman Ernie Appleby (Matt Malloy) they fight the daily grind including but not limited to getting Mike to banter or save their ratings by either having Colleen kiss a frog or strap Ernie into a live broadcast on board a new rollercoaster.
The best part of all this is that while things could have quickly dissolved into another pleasant but instantly disposable chick flick, McKenna’s script finds a new male lead of sorts in Becky’s job. Yes, there’s a subplot involving a romance between Becky and fellow IBS employee Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson), but even this is kept sincere and realistic. With Adam working in the same building he knows how important the job is to her and thankfully never gives her the clichéd ultimatum of choosing between love and a career.
While some things may be played closer to over-the-top than it could have been, most of the happenings are more low key than you’d expect. This helps make the quips and verbal sparring even funnier. While you may know where everything is headed, it is still a chick flick at heart, you can’t help but thank McKenna, Michell and Abrams for keeping everything on a realistic level and relying on the funny more than the sap. There’s almost none to speak of here. When it’s sentimental it deserves to be and the cast give their all to keep things in line when it could have strayed into Anchorman territory. And while that movie is a hilarious classic in its own right, Morning Glory makes for a fine companion piece for how things are happening today.
Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures