By Susan JAMES
If you think you’ve seen this movie before, you’re right. Director Roger Michell’s good-natured new comedy, “Morning Glory” revisits the hottest romantic formula of the last five decades, the love affair between a girl and her career. Ever since Marlo Thomas flew her kite across the screen in the 1960s TV show “That Girl,” career driven women and their (mostly New York) ambitions have held center stage in Hollywood.
Rachel McAdams’ Becky is the standard model. Still single at 30, nagged by her mother and failing in her burning desire for a high-powered career as a television network news producer, Becky is offered the dismal job of reviving a ratings challenged national morning show anchored by Diane Keaton’s Colleen Peck. On the bright side, the job is in New York so all futures are possible. Ironically plucky Becky is the most recent incarnation of career-driven J.C. Wiatt, Keaton’s classic role in the film, “Baby Boom.” As the old hand looks on, Becky puts all her ratings bets on getting legendary newsman Mike Pomeroy (played by Harrison Ford) as Colleen’s co-anchor.
One of the joys of this movie is watching the casual curmudgeon that Ford plays so well go beak to beak with Keaton’s frustrated Colleen. When the two of them are on screen together, the movie sizzles. Not so much can be said for McAdams’ Becky. Her frantic frenzy gives new definition to the idea of perpetual motion. For screenwriter Aline McKenna, Becky personifies the modern working girl: perky, smart, effervescently optimistic, living in a world defined by sound bites. Attached to her Blackberry 24/7, poor Becky never gets any screen time to reflect on life, love or the power of the media.
Into Becky’s busy life comes another TV producer, the studly Adam (Patrick Wilson). And here the movie taps its Marlo Thomas/Mary Tyler Moore roots. Yes, Becky may succeed in her chosen field, but an incredibly handsome, patient and supportive love interest is a also a prerequisite. Adam fulfills these requirements nicely but his scenes have no snap, crackle or pop. His own ambitions never emerge and he’s content to hang around until Becky needs a pep talk or a hug. Adam seems more scenery than sex symbol, more arm candy than romantic Armageddon.
The heart of the movie is not Adam and Becky but the relationship between Ford’s effortless, screen stealing Pomeroy and McAdams’ deeply needy producer. Pomeroy is a legend passed over by an age that values on-line bloggers more than on-screen newsmen. His need to find and report hard news is as compelling as Becky’s need to succeed in business by really, really trying. Naturally, Becky wants Pomeroy on her show. Naturally Pomeroy fights her tooth and nail. And here the screenwriter revisits the 1982 Peter O’Toole classic, “My Favorite Year.” Pomeroy gets drunk in hopes of sabotaging his tenure as morning show host. Becky takes him home to babysit and finally – could you guess? – to ultimate on-screen glory.
“Morning Glory” may be a golden oldies mash-up but Ford and Keaton are worth the visit.
See you at the movies!