Morning Glory, 2010.
Directed by Roger Michell.
Starring Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson, Ty Burrell and Jeff Goldblum.
An aspiring producer takes on the challenge of reviving the fortunes of a struggling morning television show.
The ongoing and increasingly shocking twists and turns of the News of the World hacking scandal has prompted a complete rethink of the way we all think about the media. The public’s fury has rightly been fuelled by disgusting revelations exposing criminal practices that targeted ordinary people or even the likes of vulnerable missing children. Prior to the game changing news stories of recent weeks though, we were not all that bothered about the odd tabloid listening in on the occasional romp or row between footballers or actresses. An intense debate about privacy raged amongst some, closely linked to the super injunction headlines from earlier in the year, but for the vast majority of us the underhand tactics of the press were a given that thankfully didn’t affect our daily lives.
But the momentous events of the past week have shown that bad habits in an industry as far reaching as the media have to be taken seriously. No one can avoid the press or the news in the modern world. Even if you don’t buy newspapers you will blindly consume headlines or leave some bland breakfast show on in the background to help you acclimatise to the new day.
Morning Glory’s critical reception was lukewarm when it was released in January of this year. It was universally dubbed a thoroughly ok romantic comedy, riddled with flaws and sprinkled with just a smidgen of appeal. In the light of the never ending phone hacking saga though, its message is given far greater relevance and urgency.
One aspect of our relationship with the media highlighted by the scandal, but buried under an avalanche of corruption and foul play, is whether or not news has become too fluffy and meaningless. Defenders of certain tactics employed by the paparazzi say that the private lives of celebrities are only ruthlessly analysed because paying readers demand it. Whatever happened to “real” news items about ethical, humanitarian or political issues? It might still be possible to find some hard stories on the likes of Newsnight but in the mainstream press, and on popular breakfast shows, the bulk of the content focuses on fluffy items about rescue dogs or a woman who miraculously lost weight by eating nothing except bacon.
Morning Glory is set in the world of breakfast telly. It follows Rachel McAdams as Becky Fuller, whose (somewhat strange) childhood dream is to make it to a big network as a producer of a news show. She loses her job at Good Morning New Jersey, where she was hoping to get promoted, and applies everywhere until Jeff Goldblum calls her up and offers her the job at the failing Daybreak, America’s least favourite start to the day. Becky ignores the negatives like the bickering anchors and the nonexistent budget, choosing instead to work as hard as she always has to make her dream a reality now she’s finally at a network.
It doesn’t take long for Becky to stumble on, in her own bumbling way, the solution to Daybreak’s woes. She vows to get Harrison Ford’s legendary newsman Mike Pomeroy to replace her terrible male presenter, proving in the process that you should never meet your heroes. The film follows her as she sets about boosting the awful ratings of the show, which is just six weeks away from being axed.
Morning Glory definitely has a whole host of things wrong with it, chiefly an uneven script with some dreary dialogue and pointless subplots. But it glides along averagely enough, throwing mostly unsuccessful cheap gags in your face. Its opening scene is a bafflingly awful way to start a film, which takes a sledgehammer approach to establishing that Becky is a busy and clumsy character. Such weaknesses in the script let down Rachel McAdams, as she is for the most part a capable and attractive lead.
This is also a rom com with its fair share of positives however. It’s refreshing to see Harrison Ford having some fun on screen and most of the cast are good; even Patrick Wilson does alright with his underdeveloped love interest. There are also some belly laughs in the middle when the, far from sophisticated, physical humour is undeniably funny as the weatherman is put through his paces on a rollercoaster, all in the name of ratings. Then there’s the message behind it all.
The climax of Morning Glory sees Harrison Ford’s Pomeroy trying to prove that there is a place for real, breaking news on morning television. It is genuinely inspiring to see some substance injected into all the ridiculous antics in the kitchen or out in the field. The hacking scandal has given journalists and readers a much needed wake up call, hopefully in terms of content as well ethical behaviour. Of course there’s a place for entertainment and light chat, especially in the bleary eyed early hours, but there is also always a place for enlightening fact and information. One need not be sacrificed for the other. A great news story can also be great television and great entertainment.
Morning Glory is far from faultless but when the credits rolled it had won me over. It has an uplifting soundtrack, filled with songs from the likes of Natasha Bedingfield and Michael Buble, and music from Bond composer David Arnold. It may leave little time for subplots or romance to develop but this does for once realistically show the all consuming day to day life of a career focused protagonist. Above all this it is a fun romantic comedy with something worthwhile to say, which is a rare thing these days. In this way it mirrors what successful breakfast TV should be about (take note Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley from ITV’s own Daybreak).
Liam Trim (follow me on Twitter)
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