If you’re the kind of person who moans and grumbles in the morning, stay away from the new daybreak comedy Morning Glory until at least 1 p.m. The movie is as perky as an over-caffeinated cheerleader, propelled by the sheer spunk of Rachel McAdams (The Notebook, Mean Girls), who plays Becky, a 28-year-old morning television producer who is fired from a local New Jersey broadcast only to somehow land a gig as the executive producer on the IBS network’s “Daybreak” morning show, the distant ratings loser in a morning lineup led by NBC’s “Today.”
Becky is the kind of hyperactive, work-obsessed person who uses her full schedule as a social defense, creating a personality that is as cute as it is hard to be around. The pace of McAdams’ performance leaves us nervously trying to catch our breath. She is non-stop and competent as a producer for “Good Morning New Jersey,” but when she is laid off, the trajectory of her life is thrown into doubt. In a perfect New York moment, Becky’s mother tells her daughter that her dreams to be a television producer were cute and inspiring when she was younger, but now that she is approaching 30, they are embarrassing. That lights a fire under Becky, who throws her resume at every job opening out there, whether she’s qualified or not. Her resume is picked out of the pack by no-nonsense IBS executive Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum), who is quick to point out Becky’s complete lack of qualifications and yet hires her nonetheless. “Daybreak” is a sinking ship, and Becky seems like the perfect fool to captain it.
We can all tell that Morning Glory is too cheery a movie to let Becky fall flat on her face, and the under-qualified executive producer soon proves she has the cojones to give “Daybreak” the shot of espresso it needs, firing the show’s skeevy anchorman on her first day and deftly navigating the remaining personalities. But we are not watching Morning Glory to see a talented girl succeed, we’re here for laughs, and the best one’s come with Becky’s morning show coup d’etat, dragging decorated IBS newsman Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) out of semi-retirement thanks to a loophole in his contract and forcing him to share the morning desk with co-host Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton). Thus the comedic trio of McAdams, Keaton, and Ford come together, and movie finally takes off.
Ford’s Mike Pomeroy is a grouchy, egotistical drunk, whose frowning and insulting one-liners are crass and funny. There are numerous moments when just looking at Harrison Ford’s sulking face amidst the put-on perk of the morning hour is enough to generate laughs. Keaton is her alluring self, witty and appealing; and she finds more than a few moments of comic banter with Ford. Then there are the enjoyable slap-stick asides, Becky’s efforts to add sensation to the show to boost ratings, which force the dorky morning weatherman to ride roller coasters and fly shotgun in jet planes.
Woven through these occasions for laughs is a gentle, good-natured story about different personalities coming together, a determined young woman, and a rather thin budding romance between Becky and news magazine producer Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson). McAdams is the glue that keeps what could have been a lackluster comedy from splitting apart, leveraging the weight of its two older mega-stars, Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford. McAdams lassos her idols, keeps them from phoning it in, and helps drum up a comedy that is as hilarious as it is charming – producing warm, good-feelings, like thermal socks and a cup of coffee on a cold winter morning.
Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures.