Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Movie Log: Morning Glory

Several times while The Wife and I were watching Morning Glory, the Blu-Ray quietly skipped ahead a chapter or three, jumping over twenty minutes or so at a clip. Sneakily, it repeatedly tried to do that by jumping between scenes that both featured the young heroine (Rachel McAdams) having a meeting with her boss (Jeff Goldblum). When the movie itself tries to tell you, "You don't really want to watch this," it's not a good sign. Possibly worse, we didn't realize the first jump had happened until the second one hit -- and didn't really miss the twenty minutes in which the movie laboriously explained how McAdams went from a minor producer on a minor early-morning cable show out in the wilds of New Jersey to running the big morning show for what's supposed to be one of the Big Three networks in New York.

Morning Glory for a long time looks like it's going to become yet another story in which a hard-working young person learns to quit and slack off for the greater glory of her soul, but ends up slightly less cliched than that in the end. McAdams is painfully perky, and has the unrealistic klutziness that modern movies use to telegraph that she is the female lead in a romantic comedy, but she does work hard, and she does mean well. Her job, basically, is to drag that morning TV show away from the bottom of the ratings, and her great hope of doing so was to team gruff, grizzled veteran newsman Harrison Ford (playing it by finding the least likable aspects of Dan Rather, Mike Wallace, and Andy Rooney) with the existing female host of the show, Diane Keaton.

And, in a movie made two or more decades ago, the relationship between Keaton and Ford would be the center of the movie -- it should be the center of the movie. But it's not, because the big face at the middle of any movie poster has to be young and perky, so McAdams is shoehorned into every scene. Oddly, her own relationship -- with the nearly colorless Patrick Wilson, there primarily to be the hunky guy who she clearly deserves and so doesn't need to have any characterization of his own -- is mostly filled in through implication and allusion, as if the movie couldn't be bothered to actually have a romance in its romantic comedy.

So Morning Glory is shiny and obvious and constructed entirely according to formula: it's a Hollywood romantic comedy; we all expected that. Keaton and Ford are good in it -- though they could have been much better if the movie were allowed to be about them, and not the random young klutz wandering through their lives. And -- even though I kept a beady eye on the time-code on my disc player throughout the second hour of the movie -- I kept getting the feeling that I was still missing scenes, and this time they were scenes that didn't make it into the movie at all. In any case, Morning Glory won't thrill anyone but died-in-the-wool Harrison Ford fans, but it won't offend anyone but the most Milquetoast of Dubuque grandmothers, either.

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