After being fired for budgetary reasons from a local morning show in New Jersey, 28-year-old Becky lands a job in Manhattan as the executive producer of “Daybreak,” the struggling morning offering of a national network.
Preternaturally vivacious and enthusiastic, Becky is extremely capable, despite coming across as slightly ditzy. Tasked with reviving the under-budgeted, perpetually ridiculed program, she arranges for venerable reporter Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to assume co-anchor duties alongside Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton).
While the gruff, pompous Mike disdains morning TV and refuses to cooperate – he’s compelled to take the job due to a chink that Becky discovers in his contract – temperamental Colleen is no picnic herself. The challenge seems insurmountable to everyone save the idealistic and underestimated Becky, who eventually makes good in the big city, while also coming to the realization that her career isn’t everything.
Thanks to McAdams, who has received strong notices for her work in movies such as “Mean Girls” and “The Notebook,” “Morning Glory” has an appealing glow without ever achieving comedic glory.
With Ford and Keaton tending to growl and grimace without much conviction, there’s significant pressure on McAdams to carry the film, just as there is on Becky to salvage “Daybreak.” The key is that she never makes Becky’s verve seem like “repellant moxie,” despite Mike’s initially harsh assessment to that effect.
Becky’s optimism and can-do spirit is the most salubrious aspect of “Morning Glory.” Her adeptness at playing hardball with colleagues when necessary proves she’s no Pollyanna, however; likewise her morally unacceptable decision to sleep with fellow producer Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson).
As far as its take on the state of broadcast journalism goes, “Morning Glory” feels dated. It’s too late to wonder who will win the battle between news and entertainment. The dumbing-down of television (and public discourse more generally) has already taken place, although that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t take a stand whenever possible.
Unfortunately, Aline Brosh McKenna’s script ultimately sides with fluff over substance given that Becky’s mission becomes persuading dinosaur Mike to relax his standards. Unfortunately, her philosophy that “no story is too high or too low to reach for” is borne out as the movie gently mocks then ultimately celebrates the public’s assumed preference for light fare over hard news.
In addition to leaning on the talents of his versatile star, director Robert Michell (“Notting Hill”) lets music and montages do most of the storytelling. The dialogue is sprinkled throughout with ribald remarks that – along with that unseen coupling – make “Morning Glory” acceptable only for mature audiences.
The film contains nongraphic sexual activity, an off-screen encounter, several uses of profanity, two instances of rough language, much crude and crass talk, numerous scatological and sexual references and a drug reference. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
McCarthy is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.