It really was remarkably well lit and framed. Even with an obvious effort to “dress down” Rachael McAdams’ character, Becky, in plain suits (note to wardrobe departments—if you’re creating a real working girl look, flawless tailoring is an afterthought) and with bangs worthy of an irascible news anchor’s derision, the lighting and framing is so lovely that McAdams always looks kind of like Cinderella pre-fairy godmother. The final scene is post-fairy godmother Cinderella as Becky wears a terribly cute dress and cardigan with bright pink pumps (and her bangs are fixed!), and it doesn’t matter if she’s inside or outside, the lighting is perfect.
McAdams isn’t the only beneficiary of this sunshiney aesthetic. Harrison Ford stars as the aforementioned irascible anchor, Mike Pomeroy, and he hasn’t looked this good in ages. There’s a shot at the end of the movie from a low angle, down a long hall, in which he wears an also-flawlessly-tailored suit and looks both very fit and very tall. Flattering. Diane Keaton is Colleen, the former beauty queen and long-time morning show anchor who favors high-waisted trouses and sleek blazers. Keaton also benefits from all this extraordinary lighting, looking both her age and really stupidly beautiful at once. It is possible to age gracefully in Hollywood.
Patrick Wilson (Watchmen) is Adam, he of all-American good looks—blonde hair, blue eyes, tan, athletic—which cast a special warming glow on anyone he stands next to. I imagine Wilson on set, surrounded by reflective fills so that his curly angel baby hair forms a perfect halo to cap off his Ralph Lauren look. And Jeff Goldblum in his formal suit outside the museum is the definition of professor chic. I’m not sure Goldblum has ever looked better than he does here. Thanks to some attractive glasses (and more excellent framing) you barely notice his fish eyes.
As for the movie, it’s very cliché. Becky is an ambitious, workaholic corporate climber in the morning news world. She’s been toiling away at a New Jersey early-AM show and just as she thinks she’s finally going to be promoted to executive producer, she gets canned. Her replacement—the one that actually does get the promotion—is an MBA with a journalism degree; though a lack of actual experience is implied. We see Becky struggle to find a new job before landing an executive producer job with the last-ranked morning show, Daybreak.
The set up is fine—my problem lies with Becky. Morning Glory can’t find its footing between romantic comedy—Wilson’s character is a producer with a news magazine a la 60 Minutes—and biting workplace comedy. I would have liked it better for attempting to be the biting workplace comedy rather than the fluffy romcom. Early on, we see Becky fail to realize that Adam likes her and asked her out—stick with that. Let us see Adam continually sniffing around and career-first Becky blowing him off. Let us wonder if she really isn’t getting it, or if she’s avoiding being sucked into Adam’s “let’s get a dog and move to Connecticut” orbit.
Also, there are a lot of hints that Becky has some issues that may be driving her to succeed—Pomeroy alludes to “obvious daddy issues”—and in her job interview for Daybreak, Goldblum’s station manager belittles her “three years of college, not four”. Obviously something happened to keep Becky from graduating. I’m not saying we need the whole situation spelled out, but perhaps tying that thread to Becky’s ambition would make Becky less of a loveable nut and more of a driven woman who still keeps her innate humor in a cutthroat industry.
Ford and Keaton are particularly shortchanged by the half-romcom format. The best scenes in Morning Glory are either Becky and Pomeroy sparring, or Pomeroy and Colleen sniping at each other on air. I really wanted Morning Glory to give me a fuller sense of the chemistry that develops between the anchors; instead it’s all background to Becky’s predictably messy personal life. And Becky is so much sharper, so much more interesting when she’s running the show. McAdams’ best lines are delivered in tirades at Pomeroy and anything that took her away from that dynamic annoyed me. I also feel like Keaton got short-changed. She’s very funny and sometimes sharp as Colleen but she felt underused.
Overall, Morning Glory is a cute, intermittently funny harmless piece fluff with fine performances from McAdams and Ford, lots of attractive framing, and the world’s best-lit set.