Judge Patrick Naugle believes Harrison Ford should only do romantic comedies from here on out.
Our review of Katharine Hepburn: 100th Anniversary Collection, published July 16th, 2007, is also available.
Don't start your day without it!
Hollywood has always been fascinated with the news industry. From Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole and The Front Page to modern day classics like Network and Broadcast News, print and television journalism has been prime fodder for both drama and comedy alike. For those looking for laughs at the expense of overworked anchors and exasperated producers, check out Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton and Patrick Wilson in Morning Glory, now available on Blu-ray care of Paramount Home Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
Becky (Rachel McAdams, Red Eye, The Notebook) is a rising star in the television news industry with a lifelong dream of working on 'The Today Show'. After being let go after cutbacks at 'Good Morning New Jersey' Becky finds herself unemployed and looking for work anywhere she can find it.
Enter 'Daybreak,' a major network morning show with pitiful ratings that hires Becky as its executive producer. In a move considered brash and possibly disastrous Becky fires the current male talent (cameo by Modern Family's Ty Burrell) and hires the cantankerous and legendary Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford, Firewall)—forced to take the job due to a clause in his contract—to co-host the show with on-air talent Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton, Something's Gotta Give). Mike has no interest in fluffy news stories and clashes with Colleen as Becky tries to bring 'Daybreak's' ratings up before the show is cancelled. With the help of her new love interest (Patrick Wilson, Watchmen) and a little luck, Becky just may turn 'Daybreak' around and find a new ally in one of New York's most conceited anchormen.
There are two genres in cinema that are as rock solid and unwavering as the Grand Canyon: horror movies and romantic comedies. I can count on one hand the number of times either has tweaked or defied expectations. Otherwise, a horror movie or a romantic comedy will almost always have the exact same storyline (read: slight variation) and the exact same outcome (read: death and sex). Almost without fail a romantic comedy is going to give us the following elements: a man, a woman, a best female and/or male friend, a career that blocks romance, a misunderstanding to be overcome, a moment of self realization and an obligatory happy ending. You can practically set the milking of the cows by this list. Sure, sometimes a main character may have left the country or be dead by the end, but not before true love has conquered all and the sun is shining once more. Morning Glory hits almost every note and then some—this is a romantic comedy with a capitol 'R' and, sadly, a lower case 'c'.
The best way to describe Morning Glory is that it's the kind of film that moves from scene to scene by utilizing catchy pop songs to tell viewers exactly what's going on with its characters. At one point Becky moves from her tiny apartment to the big city and a song with lyrics about 'putting on your walking shoes' begins playing in the background. Because, you see, she's moving sooooooo she's getting on her 'walking shoes'! Got it?!? Clearly the filmmakers ulterior motive isn't subtlety. Look at the Blu-ray cover and already you know what kind of movie you're getting with Morning Glory. If a single moment in this film surprises you then you haven't been paying attention to the medium of cinema for the past, oh let's say seventy-five years. Will you really be disappointed if I tell you that by the end of the film all the storylines have been tied together in pretty little bows and all the character's lives are richer, fuller and happier than when the beginning credits rolled?
There are some amusing moments in Morning Glory, but it's not what I'd call a bastion of the comedy genre. The laughs here come more from silly situations (such as a weatherman being used in death defying stunts to pump up a TV show's ratings) than from witty dialogue. Considering this movie was produced by J.J. Abrams (who helmed the far more amusing Star Trek remake, and that wasn't supposed to be a comedy), it's a bit disappointing that there isn't more to chuckle at here. One of my favorite moments came from the dryly funny Ty Burrell as an anchor who is into taking sexual pictures of people's feet and granny porn (thankfully, only mentioned and not seen).
Since the plot and characters aren't revelatory or groundbreaking it's the performances that anchor the film and make it a passable romantic comedy. Rachel McAdams radiates girl-next-door charm with Becky, a woman with a career drive so full throttle you're afraid she may pass Danica Patrick on the way to the top of the TV food chain. McAdams is one of the main reasons that I can recommend Morning Glory; her infectious nature is a truly delightful. Diane Keaton is an actress that I've never really warmed up to; aside of the great Annie Hall I haven't seen a movie where I've been blown away by one of her performances. Here she plays a variation on the usual 'Diane Keaton' character (stammering, smiling, sarcastic while laughing) that never really takes off. There are also a few amusing supporting characters, including a thankless Jeff Goldblum (remember when he was in every summer popcorn blockbuster for almost a decade?) as a the man who hires Becky at 'Daybreak' and John Pankow (a '90s staple on TV's Mad About You and The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd) as a 'Daybreak' employee who is just trying to keep the wheels turning.
Finally, you'll notice I haven't mentioned Harrison Ford yet. If you'll indulge me for a moment I have a final short letter I'd like to write to Mr. Ford and maybe we'll get lucky and he'll take this to heart:
Dear Mr. Ford,
I'm not going lavish you with past praise—anyone worth their salt knows you're Hollywood royalty with roles like Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Dr. Richard Kimball, Jack Ryan and John Book under your belt. You've entertained me for more hours than I can count and for that I wholeheartedly thank you.
That being said, I think I speak for many when I tell you that it's time for you to fish or cut bait. The last really good movie you did was Air Force One back in 1997 which is now almost fifteen years ago. Since then your persona onscreen appears disinterested, culminating in one of the most anticipated movies being a complete waste of time in many people's eyes (you guessed in: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). I want so badly to see you in a good movie, but you spend most of your time on-screen grumbling your lines and appearing as if ten million dollars just wasn't enough of a payday for you to give a crap about your role.
Mr. Ford, please try to show at least a smidgen of interest in your next film, Cowboys & Aliens. I hate to sound like a berating third grade teacher, but if you can't do your job right, please do us a favor and don't do it at all.
All the best,
Morning Glory is presented in a very attractive looking 2.35:1 1080p hi-def transfer that shines as brightly as McAdams and her smile. Paramount has put a lot of effort into making sure this transfer looks great; the colors (lots of bright blues, reds and greens) are well defined and beautifully rendered. The image is crystal clear and lacks any major defects like edge enhancement or DNR. Fans of this film are going to be very happy with the way Morning Glory looks.
The soundtrack is equally as good as the video transfer. Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, this soundtrack is filled with a lot of pop songs that practically pour out of all six speakers. The rest of the film isn't too heavy on directional effects; the biggest boost comes from ambient and background noises. Dialogue is crisp and easily heard, making for an appropriate and well designed track. Also included on this disc are 5.1 mixes in French, Spanish and Portuguese and subtitles in English, French, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.
Morning Glory includes two extra features that are really for diehard fans only. The first is a commentary track with director Roger Mitchell and writer Aliene Brosh McKenna and the second is a single deleted scene presented in HD.
You can bet the farm that Morning Glory is going to end exactly as expected, and yet like many of life's pleasures it's the journey not the destination you'll enjoy most. Even though Harrison Ford continues his almost two decade long melancholy tour through the medium of film, I can still recommend Morning Glory to those who like romantic comedies that don't make you think too much.
Morning Glory is a slight romantic amusement that is better than most date movies, but not half as good as others.
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