Earlier this month Picktainment published a review from Courteney Merritt on the film Morning Glory. Merritt enjoyed the film and said it rose well above the chick flick genre. Paul Hansen thoroughly disagreed and thought it was one of the worst films he had ever seen. Hansen’s counterpoint review is published here.

By Paul Hansen

You know you are in trouble when the climax of a film is someone making an omelette.  Yep,  an omelette.  Such is the dramatic arc of Morning Glory, a new film starring Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton and Rachel McAdams.

As with much of Hollywood’s current output, a  good portion of Morning Glory was already explored in a previous film, in this case Network,  the iconic 1976 film directed by Sidney Lumet.  Both Network and Morning Glory deal with the blurring of the boundaries between news  and  entertainment .

In Morning Glory, Rachel McAdams plays a young producer, Becky Fuller, who is brought in to rescue the ratings of  Daybreak, an early morning talk show.   Due to a contractual technicality, she drafts  for the program an esteemed,  serious news journalist named  Mike Pomeroy, played by Ford.   From the beginning, it is obvious that Pomeroy does not want to have anything to do with an infotainment show he views as beneath him. In their continuous battle over the journalistic standards of Daybreak, Fuller says to Pomeroy,  “The battle between news and entertainment has been going on for some time, and your side lost.”

Rachel McAdams’ character rather strongly resembles Network’s Diana Christensen, another  young TV executive who injects entertainment values into  a news show in the ever relentless  pursuit  of ratings.  Christensen was played  by  Faye Dunaway who, incidentally,  won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance. As with Dunaway’s portrayal, McAdams’ performance has an unremitting, inexorable quality to it.

In his career, Harrison Ford pretty much cornered the market on playing the stoic, quietly resourceful Everyman.  He is a curmudgeon in Morning Glory, unwilling to compromise his serious journalistic standards. Unfortunately, his performance falls flat.  Curmudgeons usually have some sort of charm which mitigates their irascibility (think Andy Rooney). Ford’s  Pomeroy just comes across  as rude, uncivil  and unpleasant.

Is there any actress who has more natural comedic talent than Diane Keaton?  Although she enlivens and adds buoyancy to every scene in which she appears,  she is underutilized in the film.   Except for a few barbs exchanged with Ford, she is  basically a spectator to the conflict between him  and McAdams.   It would have been far more interesting for Ford and Keaton to have developed some sort of romantic entanglement to contrast with their differences about the news business.

Alternatively, it would have even been entertaining for Ford and McAdams to have pursued a romantic relationship to offset their professional feuding.  This would have mirrored the romance between Dunaway’s character in Network and Bill Holden.  Holden played a much older news executive desperately trying to save the standards of his  department  from Dunaway’s  onslaught while falling for her embraces.   Instead, the only romantic relationship in Morning Glory is between McAdams and a character who has virtually nothing to do with the plot, depriving the film of what could have been an interesting synergy.

Except for the underutilized Keaton, it is hard to sympathize or root for any of the characters. Although his stance on high journalistic standards is laudable, Ford’s  role comes across as too unpleasant to be sympathetic. McAdams is driven (actually, too relentlessly,  annoyingly driven)  in the pursuit of ratings at the expense of  the examination of serious issues.  It is hard to care that much about a character who puts a camera on a roller coaster in the pursuit of a larger audience share.

Television stations are publicly licensed.   Is the public interest really served by handing the airwaves to executives who are more concerned about ratings than an informed public?  At rock bottom, Morning Glory is about the triumph of bread  (almost literally) and circuses over substance.  Although the film is billed as a “feel good movie”, I actually found it a rather depressing reminder of the shallow values that infect much of electronic media.