Morning Glory: Or Why I Think Rachel McAdams Is The Most Charming Lead Actress Today
I could watch Rachel McAdams read the phone book. She’d read some listing of a plumber from the west side of town, then look up with those big earnest eyes and give that irresistible grin. She manages to pull off quirky without being precocious, she executes physical comedy beautifully without trying too hard, and she has that movie-star smile. I’ve loved her in thrillers (Red Eye, State of Play), weepie romance dramas (The Notebook, The Time Traveler’s Wife), and in comedies (Wedding Crashers), but with Morning Glory, she has her own romcom vehicle which she carries beautifully. With snappy dialogue and a hilarious performance from Harrison Ford– his best in years– even though it never veers from the formula, Morning Glory is a winning date flick.
Becky (McAdams) is a producer on “Good Morning New Jersey!” and anticipates big promotion to executive producer… when she’s fired. D’oh! She goes back to the drawing board, and we see a montage of Becky’s plucky persistence in getting a new job, immediately endearing herself to the audience. She’s not just a pretty face, she’s an intensely hard worker, and she follows her dream relentlessly, even after her mother wishes she’d get a real job. She lands a gig at Daybreak, the worst rated basic channel morning show. The first thing she does is fire the male co-host (Ty Burrell) and replaces him with Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), a Dan Ratheresque former news anchor who is only there for the money. Becky tries to get Mike and co-host Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) to get along and pull the ratings up, while at the same time attempting to maybe gain some sort of social life with a cute producer of another show, Adam (Patrick Wilson).
Listen, there’s no illusion that this film will be anything other than predictable. Will Becky succeed? Of course. Will Mike lighten up and tell Becky how important she is? Most definitely, in his own way. Will Becky and Adam be able to work it out? What do you think? The pleasure in a film like this isn’t in its ability to surprise you, but rather in how well it’s executed. Roger Michell, who also directed Notting Hill, keeps the pace breezy and the one-liners coming. Diane Keaton is always a pleasure in films like this, and while she isn’t given as much to do as one would hope, she adds an extra dimension to Colleen. Ty Burrell gets big laughs in his small role, Patrick Wilson continues to make a career out of making the bland boyfriend role charming and interesting, and lesser known film actors like John Panklow as the veteran assistant producer of Daybreak and Matt Malloy who plays the wacky weatherman are given as many moments to shine as the stars, which is a nice change from most films like this.
The biggest reason the film works is because of the chemistry between Harrison Ford and Rachel McAdams. Ford hasn’t been picking the right projects for him as of late, but this is a big home run for him– it allows him to play the smug bastard, a role that has suited him beautifully dating back to Han Solo. His comedic timing hasn’t been this sharp since the third Indiana Jones flick, and he could really do wonders going forward in his career continuing to play the curmudgeonly father figure who eventually warms up to his child figure; it’s a better role for him now than action star, let’s be honest. And then there’s McAdams. She’s pretty without being too pretty for the part, she’s perky without being annoying, she’s earnest without seeming dumb. Why isn’t she a bigger star? If Julia Roberts starred in this film in the mid-1990s, this movie opens to a big box office opening weekend, and yet Morning Glory is flopping this weekend. Is it just because it’s an odd demographic combination of older stars with a younger star who isn’t quite A-list? Whatever the reason, it’s a shame– Morning Glory is a studio romcom that delivers its package admirably, and it deserves to be the type of film that rejuvenates Harrison Ford and makes Rachel McAdams an A-list star.