MORNING GLORY is an uneven concretion of at least three different films each existing in a universe mutually exclusive of the others that have, nonetheless, somehow found a way to meet, merge, and form a whole that is geometrically smaller than the sum of it parts. And this is a shame, because at least one of those parts was a smart, sharp, and funny look at the struggle between news and entertainment in modern media. The others include a soupy, inconsistently written and, an equally badly written rom-com that seems to hail from somewhere in the 1960s. It pits a spluttering, perky Rachel McAdams against the granite-faced gravitas of Harrison Ford and instead of chemistry, or even compatibility, discovers the pain of a cinematic relationship where nothing, absolutely nothing, works.
Shes Becky Fuller, a fresh-faced workaholic given the chance of a lifetime when she is improbably offered the executive producer job at Daybreak, a failing network morning show, by a dyspeptic network functionary (Jeff Goldblum). A mere 28, and fresh meat more than inspiration for the morale-challenged crew, she nonetheless proves ruthless enough to fire one of the anchors on her first day, while still being strangely unable to get a word in edgewise with the other anchor, Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton). Shes smart enough to find the loophole in the network contract of the networks legendary newsman, Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), but somehow unable to use any leverage to actually get him to take part in the show, aside from the usual tropes of elitist pomposity tossed at Peck, and the general sneers to the audience for watching what he considers tripe.
That a relationship needs to be built between Fuller and Pomeroy is a given, that it is done with no logic whatsoever is a mystery. One minute humoring her and even allowing her to herd him from a bar to his lavish apartment, the next humiliating her in front of her staff. Ford brings little energy to the role beyond a growl, while McAdams is a jittery mess, relying on sunshine, rainbows, and the infinite patience of the audience to convince the audience that she is as competent as her character is supposed to be. Equally uncoupling is the romance Fuller develops with Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson), the network golden boy who somehow sees beyond a woman unable to negotiate a sliding door or to complete sentence when in his presence.
Clichés about the emptiness of success, the pettiness of celebrity feuds, and the inevitability of the two best-looking people in the film hooking up almost immediately trump the thoughtful consideration of the uneasy middling ground between news and piffle that is the domain of morning news shows, and the guilty pleasure of seeing a the shows goofy weatherman (Matt Molloy), being pummeled into an internet phenomenon. That the active metaphor used about the news show concerns bran and a donut reborn as bran donut is not helpful, either.
MORNING GLORY worst sin is that is gives us in Fuller a feminist heroine from an earlier age, one in which the non-threatening nature of spunkiness and a case of the cutes substituted for calm assurance and cool capability. Necessary 40 years ago. Distasteful now. Especially in a film that wants to be taken seriously.