Someone apparently forgot to tell Harrison Ford he was starring in a comedy when he was cast in Morning Glory. As Mike Pomeroy, a legendary TV newsman and cantankerous crab who hates being told what to do, Ford doesn’t give the character any humor or shading of humanity. He plays him straight, like a misanthropic Dan Rather, so he barely gets any laughs (imagine what Jack Nicholson or Harvey Keitel would have done with this part).
Ford was funnier in Extraordinary Measures than he is here, and that was a movie about terminally ill children. Fortunately, Morning Glory isn’t really about him: This is the story of Becky (Rachel McAdams), a plucky TV news producer (is there ever any other kind in movies?) who gets her big break when she’s handed the reins of a flailing network morning show and assigned to boost its ratings.
Becky gets the idea to pair Pomeroy, who is under contract with the network and can’t say no, with the chirpy co-host Colleen (Diane Keaton). The two anchors immediately loathe each other: He can’t stand her “soft” stories about trendy recipes and cute animals; she hates his gruff demeanor and condescending manner. But after a rocky start – and, in the film’s funniest montage, some daring new ideas from Becky involving the show’s weatherman – the ratings begin to pick up.
Morning Glory, which was directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill) from a script by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada), isn’t really interested in the inner workings of the television news industry, the way Broadcast News was. This is a softer, more generic picture about a young woman rising to the challenge placed before her, with some time made along the way for an utterly superfluous, completely unnecessary romantic subplot (with Patrick Wilson) to prove that she’s not a) asexual or b) a lesbian.
McAdams remains the most talented and promising of the current crop of inheritors to the Julia Roberts crown (watch the underrated Red Eye for proof of how good she can be). But even she isn’t enough to save this mild, bland picture for sinking into a swamp of blahs. The only thing that could have really kickstarted Morning Glory, which even wastes Keaton’s comedic talents, was a home run from Ford. This was a perfect opportunity for him to loosen up and have some much needed fun, but the actor seems to have grown listless and more reticent to emote with age. Like Pomeroy, he simply can’t be bothered. There’s no Han Solo left in him; there’s just grumpy old man.
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, John Pankow.
Director: Roger Michell.
Screenwriter: Aline Brosh McKenna.
Producers: J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk.
A Paramount Pictures release. Running time: 110 minutes. Vulgar language, adult themes. Opens Wednesday Nov. 10 at area theaters.