Friday, November 12, 2010

Here’s the story, Morning Glory
Nominee: Best Overacting in a Rom-Com

Me and my friend Sooz went to see the new Rachel McAdams movie, “Morning Glory”.

After seeing the trailer - and after having already seen almost every other major release currently in theatres - I thought 'Morning Glory' would be a fairly solid choice for spending a couple hours in the dark.

“Morning Glory” is the story of Becky Fuller, (over)played by Rachel McAdams. Becky is a TV Morning Show producer in New Jersey shooting for stars.

And by "stars", this movie means "The Today Show" since ‘Today’ is widely recognized as the top dog in American network morning shows.

As a matter of fact, 'Today’ is mentioned so often in “Morning Glory” that by the end of the film I was wondering if I was watching a Universal Pictures release since there was such unabashed cross-promotion in the script. (Turns out ‘Morning Glory’ is a Paramount Picture which, I think, is more closely associated with CBS TV properties).

In ‘Morning Glory’, Becky experiences an unexpected career change which places her in New York’s morning TV market. But it's not a change that gets her the ‘Today’ show. Instead, she joins the fictional IBS Network and its morning show, Daybreak.

As I watched, I wondered if the film's writers are aware that “IBS” stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

‘Daybreak’ is suffering terribly in the ratings and is on the verge of cancellation by the network. Enter plucky new-producer Becky, who offers more spunk than a Bel Ami on-location shoot in a Budapest back alley.

Becky turfs one of the two 'Daytime' anchors, both played very well by Diane Keaton and Modern Family’s Ty Burrell. I don’t wanna give *every*thing away, but suffice to say the anchor who gets fired conveniently makes room for Harrison Ford’s character, Mike Pomeroy, to fill the vacancy.

As you might expect, Becky is very challenged in her tough new position in the big city, especially by having to mediate an ego-war waged by Pomeroy and Keaton’s character, Colleen Peck.

Now, normally I really love Rachel McAdams. But I did not love Rachel McAdams in ‘Morning Glory’. Not saying I hated her, but I think she really overplayed Becky Fuller. To the point of charicature.

Think big smiles and an “aww shucks / can-do” attitude. Think bangs that CONSTANTLY fall over the eyes, get stuck in lipstick, and need to be blown up and out of the way while she looks up with an eye roll and a heavy sigh. Think continuous contrived clumsiness that only once actually feels spontaneous and makes you laugh.

Then there’s Harrison Ford. I’ve had a hard time liking him lately because anytime I happen to catch him getting interviewed on Letterman or something like that, he is seriously THEE MOST boring person ever.

But in ‘Morning Glory’ he also unfortunately overplays his character. Ford is Mike Pomeroy, a veteran journalist who is a scathing curmudgeon and just wants to be retired. He has zero patience for the admittedly light news format of network morning shows.

And boy-oh-boy when Mike Pomeroy shows his disdain, does he ever growl like a bear, or a dog, or a mafia don, or like whatever... every single time he recites a line. It’s just too much growling. Way too much growling. It's not acting, it’s just growling.

Diane Keaton on the other hand is quite a delight in the movie. Her character’s quirks are much more nuanced and believable, and often downright funny as in her scene as a sumo wrestler in a ratings stunt.

‘Morning Glory’ also co-stars Jeff Goldblum, John Pankow (who Sooz recognized from ‘Mad About You’) and the very yummy Patrick Wilson as Becky’s love interest.

Interestingly, 'Morning Glory' is produced by JJ Abrams (Alias, Cloverfield, Lost, Star Trek, etc.) which really freaks me out. Mind you, Rachel McAdams and Jennifer Garner are kinda doppelgangers so that explains that.

With 'Morning Glory' I guess I got what I paid for. A predictable romp through cookie-cutter romantic-comedy territory. That’s what Hollywood does – quite often – and often it’s done well, but only marginally well in this particular case.

'Morning Glory’ is a saccharine slice of Hollywood and that’s fine. I just wish the acting had not bothered me like a mosquito buzzing near my ear.

On the soundtrack side of things, the closing credits include a new Natasha Bedingfield song that sounded good. It’s called “Strip Me”.

The trailer for 'Morning Glory' is on YouTube

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