If, as I posited earlier, Broadcast News is Network-lite than this recent romantic comedy is best described as Broadcast-lite. It follows a semi-obsessive but plucky, young female producer who moves up from local broadcast to the lowest run in the morning show big leagues, IBS’s ‘Daybreak’, where she quickly finds herself torn between a handsome young reporter who values factual journalism and … a cragged old journalist who really, really values factual journalism? So the films relationship triangle lacks the clarity and thematic complexity of Broadcast News even but it more than makes up for that in execution. Rachael McAdams is an absolute joy to watch as the prodigious producer, bringing to the role a sublime energy and exuberance that transforms even the overly-rote scenes of cliche (See: The getting the Job sequence) into something terrifically enjoyable to watch; her renditions have you understanding why these things became cliches in the first place. On the absolute polar opposite end of the spectrum we have Harrison Ford who is great as the grouchy old ex-Anchor who is roped into co-hosting the Morning Show; he displays none of that same energy, barking out, dry monosyllabic answers and refusing to be involved in all such slight affairs, let alone actually enjoy them as she does. It may sound like an easy role to play but in actual fact it is very hard to play such a character and still remain likeable; which is what Ford does and necessarily so given that he is essentially the films romantic lead.
No, this isn’t some kind of subtly delivered Summer – Winter romance, it isn’t Harold and Maude light after all; rather the film, quite admirably I believe, upsets the usual Rom-Com narrative conventions by playing the protagonist’s paternal relationship with Ford as its main emotional string, rather than some potential. Those old beats are still here – The awkward first encounter, the second in-context introduction, the will they or won’t they and of course the dramatic declaration of love in the films finale – but they are played at a different resonance because of this new style of relationship. This approach is really rather refreshing and again reminds you just why those moments are constantly re-used and that’s because they do move you.
There is also an actual romantic sub-plot with the younger of the two male reporters, played amicably by WASP incarnate Patrick Wilson, but this is where the film first starts to flounder. There are some tired plot-lines here too, predominantly the ‘Cheating with work’ angle as exemplified through McAdam’s constantly ringing phone, unlike the other cliches though this one is simply left to languor. Because the focus of the film is often elsewhere this plot-line is forced to run without the time required to deepen their relationship to any kind of meaningful level; it’s a series of cute encounters but nothing that couldn’t have been cut completely were it not for the sake of the trailer. I will say that I did like the way in which this disregard strengthened McAdam’s character, she is capable of love but not defined by it or any man, and this, luckily enough, almost made the approach worthwhile…almost.
The other triangle of interest in Morning Glory is that of McAdam’s producer and the concepts of entertainment and education in network news. The film’s plot is loosely constructed around the debate between these two sides – one claiming that the news is being dumbed down for the sake of appeasing the masses and the other that people simply don’t want to see ‘real news’ and so why not offer them an alternative – but it never really has much of value to say on the issue, preferring to simply milk it for dramatic conflict. Interestingly enough though it does appear to favor the side of entertainment (as one could probably assume from the title) which puts it in direct thematic opposition with both Network and Broadcast News – and myself – but then this isn’t a film worth watching for its thesii though nor does it try to be. I probably would have appreciated something less pat in its attempts to appease both sides, you can extrapolate its assumed message of ‘variety is the spice of life’ but the movie could have done this having actually been said somewhere.
Normal people can ignore that last paragraph, I just like to over-read things. Overall, if you are one of those normal people than you will likely enjoy this little film quite a lot. It won’t change your life, hell you will probably forget it come the end of the year but while its on the screen Morning Glory is a very pleasant experience to escape into; one without any of the stupidity or exploitation of modern day morning television and enough of that late-night news smarts, it’s the perfect medium!