Why the Notorious ‘They’ are Wrong about Morning Glory

Posted on 10 November 2010 by Quaid

The truth is this. I was beginning to be concerned that I had no sense of humor. It’s human nature (or at least reviewer-nature) to react to the opinions offered around you, and I’ve lately found myself standing up at the end of movies wanting to say to the woman sitting next to me – it was not funny, what movie were you watching? – or to the guy behind me – it really wasn’t that funny… really… – or to come back to my computer and write a review that simply explains why the greater part of the theater was wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I refrain because that sampling of opinions and their wrongness doesn’t really capture the ‘what’ within the movie that fell short, and I have a tendency toward becoming distracted and simply pouncing on an erroneous view, then letting it go and catching it over and over again, like a cat with a mouse in a bathtub. I digress.

The theater was, again, wrong this evening. They said the movie was ‘cute’. It was not. It was funny, it was real, it was solidly acted and cast with a solid score. It was not ‘cute’. That is all I will say on the matter of the opinions in the theater. I think.

Morning Glory is the story of a not-quite-stellar television morning-show producer named Becky (Rachel McAdams). Her resume isn’t quite there, her professional persona is lackluster on a good day, and she’s simultaneously too young and too old for the job she does. She’s over-eager and talks herself out of every opportunity laid before her, professional and personal. She’s got moxy, though, and Jerry Barnes, played by Jeff Goldblum, takes a chance on her, making her the executive producer of Daybreak, a catastrophe of a morning show with no budget, dysfunctional anchors, and a track record of chewing up and spitting out executive producers. The doorknobs fall off the doors. Repeatedly.

Banner leads Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford bicker throughout the film in a titanic battle of ego, but McAdams firmly keeps hold of the driver’s seat as the dynamic wounded bird who won’t take no for an answer. The entire film is a battle between her confident, capable professional side and her insecure, failure-obsessed personal side. She can accomplish anything, if she would just stop second-guessing herself and for heaven’s sake stop talking. Add to this tracks from Joss Stone, Natasha Beddingfield, and Colbie Calait and the movie takes on a serious girl-power flavor.

More than that, though, this is a satire about an industry. Many comedies get caught up and carried away with preposterous situations and lose touch with reality. There is no exception here. Safely ensconced in a witty commentary on the entertainment industry, though, the silliness takes on new meaning. This is who we are, as a news-consuming public. The old guard – represented by Ford’s character Mike Pomeroy, a codger of a put-to-pasture, serious newscaster – has been replaced by 4-year-old ballerinas and weathermen on roller coasters. The movie concludes unapologetically that entertainment has won out over news, with perhaps a wistful sigh at what the loser in that battle once represented.

Perpetually sunny and optimistic, this is a funny movie. It mostly avoids the type of humor that twists your arm into laughing – either laugh or be uncomfortable, those are your choices – as well as the easy punching bag character, redeemed or otherwise. (Ha. I do have a sense of humor.) It’s a smile. It’s easy and charming, but not completely without thought or substance. We may like to be entertained at every juncture, but we shouldn’t just abandon thought, meaningful information, or serious news. As a representation of its own opinions, Morning Glory does marvelously. It just wasn’t ‘cute’.

The metrics:

  • Would I see this movie opening weekend? It’s a shame that this movie is not a buzz-worthy event, but I must concede that very very few comedies are. This is an opening weekend movie.
  • Will I see this movie again? Not in theaters. It will have enough gravitational pull to watch on TV, and if it comes up instant on Netflix, I’d probably pull it up for a cheerful way to spend an afternoon.
  • Will I buy this movie? No. The rewatchability of comedies is generically too low – I probably only own a couple.

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