'Morning Glory' Review: A Cut of Above the Tired RomCom Genre

After high school, my dad toured the country as a drummer with a Christian rock and roll band called “Daybreak.” We have some of his stuff on vinyl back home, and I like to think they sound like early Beatles. I say this to preface why part of me is biased in favor of the new romantic comedy “Morning Glory,” the story of a young producer’s fight to turn the failing morning show Daybreak into a winning way to wake up.

“Morning Glory” follows Rachel McAdams as Becky Fuller, a driven, klutzy morning show producer with a life-long dream of working for “The Today Show.” Her break comes when she is hired, reluctantly, by the network IBS to host its low-rated morning show, “Daybreak.”

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“Daybreak” is the epitome of bad morning television. With an aging beauty pageant contestant (Diane Keaton) and a fetish obsessed co-anchor (Ty Burrell) at the show’s helm, McAdams has her work cut out from her. After firing Burrell’s character, McAdams goes searching for a new male co-anchor. Through a contract loophole, she snags her childhood hero Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), long-time mega hard news journalist and anchor, for co-host. But what starts as a dream come true turns into a nightmare as ratings plummet and Pomeroy refuses to cover soft news.

As ratings fall, McAdams’ boss delivers an ultimatum: Improve the ratings or lose the show. With her job on the line, McAdams attempts to jump the shark every day for six weeks in order to turn things around.

“Morning Glory” returns the romance to journalism – the romance of finding a good story or the right angle. And yeah, it’s soft journalism, but with Harrison Ford‘s best Walter Cronkite facial expressions and Dan Rather vocal imitation, it’s good fun.

It’s not necessarily clean fun. “Morning Glory” drops swearwords incessantly to easily earn its PG-13 rating. And a few socially liberal elements are added as McAdams’ Becky attempts to push the show’s limits – in one instance by having a cross-dresser on the show. They aren’t a big deal, and fit with her effort to make Daybreak the most outrageous in-your-face morning program, but they are, in my opinion, worth noting. Then there’s the fact that our notably conservative Pomeroy (he’s seen hunting, and brags that he once had lunch with Dick Cheney) is found drinking one night with Chris Matthews. It’s fine by me, but it does seem out of character.

What’s refreshing is the relationship between McAdams and her love interest, played by Patrick Wilson. Wilson plays a real guy who responds like a good boyfriend (not a stereotypical one, or a flimsy film heartthrob) to McAdams’ all-work, all-the-time ethic. And the romance avoids being the film’s main focus. The featured relationship is McAdams’ near father-daughter relationship with Ford.

And the film’s funny. One of the reasons is McAdams herself, a strong lead with an exuberant personality. She’s a bit over the top in a couple scenes, in strained attempts to keep her energy up, but for the most part her driven character is a likeable young hot professional that you can’t help but fall for.

And Ford is awesome, as usual. He’s still got that wry Indiana Jones/Han Solo smile, which keeps him likeable even when he’s a huge jerk onscreen. A touch of bitterness makes Ford’s Pomeroy a solidly classic journalist who drinks too much, swears too much and is a piece of history himself. For their parts, co-anchor Keaton and weather guy Matt Malloy are both well-cast comic relief.

“Morning Glory” boasts an easy pop sound track, good filming and a fun, well-written central story (thanks to screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna of “27 Dresses” and “The Devil Wears Prada”). While it’s not perfect, it’s the best romantic comedy I’ve seen this year, by far less of a nightmare than “Leap Year” or “Letters to Juliet.”

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