Well wouldn’t this be nice to wake up to in the morning. Two morning show anchors who hate each others guts with their wet-behind-the-ears producer trying to hold it all together. The premise is simple enough, yet does Morning Glory manage to move past the starting line with the grace of its two aging stars, or does it wallow in the mediocrity of its stylistic choices?
For those who are unaware, I am not a 40-year-old woman. Given this rather simple fact, I am willing to admit that I am not, nor have I ever been, the audience for a film like Morning Glory. The following is not an analysis of the tastes of this particular demographic, as I’d like to believe that they are just as capable of enjoying interesting plots, deep character development, and complexity in their storytelling as any other group. This is an impassioned and overwhelmingly disparaging example of what Hollywood producers think of 40-year-old women.
To start with, they believe you need it all spelled out for you in BIG letters. How big do you ask? Try every single line of dialogue. It appears the screenwriters believe that unless you’re completely and utterly aware of the subtext of everything a character says, you won’t be able to follow the film. So they let you hear the character talking about what they’re going to do later, planning out their attack to achieve x or y goal. Normal people do all these things in their heads, but not the characters in Morning Glory. They perform their inner monologues for you. As such, you could do the equivalent of speed-reading when you see the film (most likely on DVD) and watch only the very beginning and very ending of each scene. After the initial line, you know exactly what will happen in the rest of the sequence, and really just need the transitional stuff to help you sort out location A from location B. The spoon-feeding makes it a chore to sit through, and once the endless musical montages start to kick in, you’ll really want it all to just end.
So now you must be wondering, why the halfway decent grade? The interesting thing about the movie is that the filmmakers managed to assemble a top-notch cast to perform their way through the drivel. Rachel McAdams, Patrick Wilson, Diane Keaton, and Harrison Ford all do their best making the script feel subtle and the characters seem developed, but it all ends up being window dressing on top of a tepid foundation. Jeff Goldblum even has a couple fun scenes as the show owner and network heavyweight, but they don’t even give him enough to do. McAdams makes for a spunky lead, and the amount of time she spends sans pants is almost enough to recommend it to guys as a date movie. It really wouldn’t be a fair trade, however, as the ladies only get a handful of shirtless Patrick Wilson moments and you both have to suffer through the same blasé story. I really can’t figure out what made Ford take the part, as he spends most of the movie being entirely unlikeable. It’s not a spoiler for me to say that his Grinch heart grows back before the end of the movie, as you could get that from any of the previews. The way they do it is the only spark of originality in the whole thing, and because it comes so close to the end, they hope you forget about the 2 hours that came before it.
The general likeability of the cast makes it hard to hate the film even with its glaring flaws, and you’ll wind up feeling satisfied in a cotton candy sort of way. The overwhelming cliché and cold, calculated manipulation of the audience is usually not this obvious, and the discerning viewer will find it hard to shut their brain off enough to really enjoy the proceedings. I guess the biggest criticism I can hurl at the film is its complete and utter disposability, with its sugary sweet outer crust that hides a painfully sour center. The banter between Ford and Keaton should have made it all worthwhile, but once again the filmmakers concentrated on other things that aren’t nearly as interesting. My recommendation? See it on DVD. This isn’t a story that was made for the big screen.
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