When hardworking TV producer Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) is fired from a local news program, her career begins to look as bleak as her hapless love life. Stumbling into a job at 'Daybreak', the last-place national morning news show), Becky decides to revitalise the show by bringing on legendary TV anchor Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford). Unfortunately, Pomeroy refuses to cover morning show staples like celebrity gossip, weather, fashion and crafts – let alone work with his new co-host, Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton), a former beauty queen and longtime morning show personality who is more than happy covering morning 'news.'

Ford and Keaton crackle and snap in TV satire.

A script by Aline Brosh McKenna (who wrote The Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses), a proven director in Roger Michell (Notting Hill), veterans Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton and rising star Rachel McAdams, all bundled up in a satire of American morning television"¦

What could go wrong with Morning Glory? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot as evidenced by the movie’s lousy $US9.2 million weekend debut in the US in November.

It’s not a bad film as formulaic Hollywood comedies go, just not worthy of the talent involved or its $40 million budget. The first problem is the milieu: Apart from a handful of movies such as Network and Broadcast News, the fictional goings-on on camera and behind the scenes of a TV show are rarely compelling.

The second is not so much the casting of 68-year-old Ford (who can’t sell tickets unless he’s wearing Indiana Jones’ fedora) and 64-year-old Keaton (whose last hit was 2003’s Something’s Gotta Give) as asking them to play unlikable, unsympathetic, egotistical characters.

Throw in McAdams, who’s sweetly appealing and was effective in supporting roles in Sherlock Holmes, State of Play and Wedding Crashers, but manifestly lacks the ability to carry a movie on her 32-year-old shoulders.

McAdams plays workaholic, uptight Becky Fuller, who moves to the Big Apple to serve as a senior producer on the struggling network show Daybreak after being laid off from her job at Good Morning, New Jersey.

After a promising start – on her first day she fires the obnoxious, foot-fetishist co-anchor – she persuades her boss (a wry, laid-back Jeff Goldblum) to let her approach the network’s under-used veteran newsman Mike Pomeroy (Ford).

She offers him the job, he haughtily turns it down but changes his mind after she points out she can terminate his contract, worth $6 million. Thereafter the sparks fly – between Pomeroy and his resentful, prima donna-ish co-anchor Colleen Peck (Keaton), the out-of-her-depth Becky and the curmudgeonly Pomeroy, and as the ratings remain stubbornly low, Becky and her boss.

To be fair, there are some clever gags in the banter between Pomeroy and Peck, and a smattering of physical comedy mostly involving the show’s daredevil weatherman.

The pompous, jaded, cynical, acid-tongued Pomeroy is wittily described by a producer who’d worked with him as 'the world’s third worst person" behind North Korea’s dictator and Angela Lansbury. Ford plays him as if suffering from a prolonged bout of constipation, displaying a frown or grimace that rapidly wears thin. There’s also a cruel side to the anchor as he mocks his young producer.

And I know this is a make-believe Hollywood satire but would a broadcast journo of 40 years experience, who prides himself on reporting in war zones, behave so unprofessionally both on camera and towards his unfortunate colleagues? The script does contrive to allow Pomeroy to show a more humane and gentler side as he reveals his unhappy private life, but I suspect most folks won’t buy that transformation.

Becky finally figures out how to reinvigorate the ratings by taking the show even more down-market and dumber"¦ at least that has a ring of credibility. McAdams has some nice moments with Ford but her character seems too naïve and clueless to land, let alone keep, a high-pressure job in network TV. And a sub-plot which follows the ups and downs of her romance with a current affairs producer (a bland Patrick Wilson) is under-developed and feels tacked on.

Michell hadn’t directed a movie since the Peter O’Toole/Leslie Phillips comedy/drama Venus in 2006; maybe he was rusty.


1 hour 47 min
In Cinemas 06 January 2011,
Thu, 05/05/2011 - 11