[Screen It]

(2010) (Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford) (PG-13)

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Comedy: A young woman takes over producing a network morning news show and must contend with the various related complications, including two hosts who don't get along.
Becky Fuller (RACHEL McADAMS) is a young woman who works as a producer for Good Morning, New Jersey, a local morning TV program where she's expecting a big promotion. Instead, she ends up laid off and must hit the streets to find a new job. She eventually convinces IBS big wig Jerry Barnes (JEFF GOLDBLUM) that she'd be perfect for the executive producer position for his network's morning show, Daybreak.

The only problem is the show is in the bottom of the ratings cellar and is both underfunded and understaffed, bits of information she also learns from her immediate subordinate and senior producer, Lenny (JOHN PANKOW). She certainly doesn't get any support from veteran Daybreak co-anchor Colleen Peck (DIANE KEATON) who expects Becky will be gone shortly, just like all of her predecessors.

But the young producer perseveres and decides to make some big changes, including firing Colleen's co-host and then trying to convince legendary investigative reporter Mike Pomeroy (HARRISON FORD) to fill the slot. The only problem is he's semi-retired and living high off his remaining network contract and is considered the third worst person in the world by fellow IBS employee, Adam Bennett (PATRICK WILSON).

Even so, Becky manages to coerce Mike into joining the show, although he adamantly refuses to do anything but hard news coverage. With the ratings still low, Becky ends up with limited time to turn things around, all while she falls for Adam but can't stop focusing so much on her work to allow something to come of that.

OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10
Back when I was growing up, news consisted of your local paper (or papers in our case, a morning and evening one), radio and TV stations, and a half-hour national news program that just about everyone watched. And any "breaking news" was something that truly stopped you in your tracks and directed your undivided attention to the likes of Walter Cronkite informing you of some truly monumental event.

I still have that immediate visceral reaction whenever a "breaking news" alert comes up on the TV, but that usually quickly goes away as it's just not the same anymore. And that's because just about anything is considered "breaking" nowadays while "news" -- and I use that term loosely -- has taken over the airwaves, with multiple 24 hour channels, unlimited web sites, and even network morning programming that goes on for hours, mixing entertainment, helpful advice, fluff pieces and more with the hard news. I can only imagine what "Uncle Walt," Edward R. Murrow and other trailblazers think of what "news" has become today.

That's the backdrop of and what provides for a great deal of humor in "Morning Glory," a comedy that turned out to be so much better and more entertaining than I imagined it would be from the commercials that have been playing during breaks in such real-world TV news programming. In it, the absolutely delightful and charming Rachel McAdams plays a morning show TV producer hired by a network big-wig (Jeff Goldblum, doing his usual shtick, but just as funny as always) to take over their flailing morning news program.

Diane Keaton plays Katie Couric, Meredith Vieira and Diane Sawyer types wrapped together as an anchor who's gone with the flow of having to do dumb, silly and potentially embarrassing things while also reporting the news. But when Becky arrives as the new sheriff/coach/animal wrangler in town, she fires the male co-anchor and thus needs a replacement who will boost the show's rating.

Accordingly, she goes after her hard news idol, an ill-tempered investigative reporter and former anchor (Harrison Ford) who she convinces (via potential loss of money) to join the show. But he's not a team player, especially when it comes to any segment not related to real news, and thus the sparks fly. As do a surprising number of genuinely funny moments, lines of dialogue and some game comedy performances from Ford, Keaton, McAdams and others who turn this into an engaging and entertaining offering.

Beyond a scathing but somewhat lightly played indictment of what's become of TV news, the film -- directed by Roger Michell ("Notting Hill") from a screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna ("The Devil Wears Prada") -- is also about the ill-effects of being too committed and driven by one's work passion. For Becky, it's that her mom doesn't support her and that she has a hard time maintaining or even finding any sort of romantic connection with others due to working so hard and long.

That part of her life is represented by Patrick Wilson playing another news guy -- albeit one with far less of a demanding schedule and thus free time to pursue a woman like Becky -- who falls for her. When she can't slow down to "smell the roses," she ends up sabotaging herself on a personal level, while also seeing her likely future in Ford's character who's lost most contact with his family and isn't liked by many, if any, others.

That might sound too depressing or even potentially maudlin for a film like this and especially one that begins and continues on lively and upbeat material (notwithstanding a layoff that serves as a catalyst for all that follows). Thankfully, the filmmakers nicely balance such introspective lows with the more entertaining highs to make all of it go down quite easily.

My only real gripe with the film is that it contains what could possibly be a record setting number (or at least a strong challenger) of montages (both in the rom-com moments and elsewhere) along with far too many songs designed to drive home the point with their lyrics and/or tempo. They're also presumably present to help sell the motion picture soundtrack, something that didn't happen much or maybe even at all back in the day when movies weren't as cross-marketed and TV news, at least on a national level, was the real deal.

Those are far from fatal flaws, and the comedic writing and winning performances from Ford, McAdams and even Keaton (whose performances of late had started to grate on my nerves) more than make up for such issues. "Morning Glory" rates as a 6.5 out of 10.

Reviewed October 26, 2010 / Posted November 10, 2010

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