Walking out of the new Rachel McAdams comedy “Morning Glory” with a frown on your face, saying you hated the film, is the journalistic equivalent of punching a puppy in the face. I’m not talking about a gentle shove or a thump between the eyes, I’m talking about a full-power punch right between the eyes. Now while that’s a blunt analogy, I feel like it’s a great description for how loveable this film really is. Backed by some solid writing, a fun cast, and a stellar take-home message, Morning Glory may not be the best film I’ve seen this year, but it has to be some of the fiercest competitors for “Biggest Smile Throughout”. Rachel McAdams plays Becky, a woman whose career has always been her first love. After getting promoted to the big leagues as the lead producer on a network morning show, she quickly realizes she may have bitten off more than she could chew thanks to a diva of a co-host (Diane Keaton) and begging a veteran host (Harrison Ford) to cooperate with her. When it comes to ideal casts, you can’t really beat Morning Glory. Diane Keaton, although she can come off a little annoying to some, embraces that part of her character and gets a number of laughs in the film. Ty Burrell, who stars in one of the best comedies on television right now Modern Family, appears in a brief spot as the perverted former co-host of Morning Glory. It’s sort of a shame we don’t get to see more of him in the film. Jeff Goldblum plays a bit of a villain in the movie but it’s still classic Goldblum, and Harrison Ford is the film’s mastermind. It takes a few scenes to warm up to his gruff nature, but once you learn to laugh at his deadpan one-liners and love his “Yeah, I used to be Indiana Jones AND Han Solo” demeanor, you’ll perk up in your seat every time he walks into the frame. He’s like the uncle everyone wants. Patrick Wilson has a small role in the film as Becky’s love interest, and while he doesn’t have a lot to work with his character could have been a lot worse off with lesser-talented actors. Rachel McAdams, being the lead in a romantic comedy, is the glue that holds it all together. It’s admirable and oddly coincidental seeing how much work she puts into a character that’s putting so much work into her own job. She’s got the charm, she has that ability to make you care about her character, she definitely has the looks, and she definitely has the funny to make even the films lowest moments round off nicely. An exceedingly peppy soundtrack compliments the movie. Paolo Nutini, an artist I’ve been following for a couple of years now (hoo-rah for indie cred), has his single “New Shoes” put into one of the movie’s first scenes, and Natasha Bedingfield’s “Strip Me”, along with The Weepies’ new single created for the film work perfectly in the film. Thanks in part to the great soundtrack, the film has a consistently upbeat pace to it. It almost works like a hybrid of a movie with all the elements going on. One moment you may have an oh-so timeless romantic comedy montage set to a pop song, then a series of visual gags or a great joke/one-liner or two, or a strong dramatic moment (often times molded by hand by Harrison Ford), there’s always something to fall back on. There aren’t too many dull moments during Morning Glory, and the film benefits from it greatly. There’s a wide variety of events going on here and it makes for one of the most fun viewing experiences out there, not because of death-defying visuals like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World but because it’s a really well-written film. The writers weren’t afraid to take advantage of the “diverse world” of morning broadcast, taking the characters from location to location quickly, and loaning itself to the at-times lightning quick nature of the film’s events and dialogue. The pacing isn’t the only thing quick and diverse, as I said earlier the movie has a strong sense of humor. Rachel McAdams peppiness brings a lot to the table, Diane Keaton is a strong contender, and Harrison Ford, delivering a lot of his lines through gritted teeth, is something to be seen. There are a lot of laugh-out-loud moments in Morning Glory, there’s one montage about 1/2 way through the film that had my theater doubled over in laughter. J.J. Abrams produced the film, and the guy’s been on a bit of a role including his involvement in the phenomenal Cloverfield and last year’s genius blockbuster Star Trek reboot. That being said Abrams footprint is evident. The opening shot is oddly interesting, and the lens flares that divided some fans are sporadically present. Coming from a guy that was a fan of them in Star Trek, it’s a nice little treat that will largely go unnoticed. There are also a number of great shots that take advantage of some beautiful locations and gorgeous set design. As I start to wrap this up, it’s nice to see that Morning Glory had such a sweet message to it all. I won’t spoil it for those of you at home, but it’s something that I could personally relate to, which was a nice touch. I’ve always been a fan of optimism in the work place and putting your best foot forward to accomplish your task with a smile on your face, and seeing that put on film was interesting for me and added that extra layer. Harrison Ford’s character is, throughout a majority of the film, a curmudgeon, so seeing him share his words of advice from his own tragedy (that we see in the trailer) and coming around to Becky as her “mentor” is the film’s best moment, and therein lies a lot of the movie’s heart. Heart is definitely something this movie has a lot of. It doesn’t do everything perfectly, but it’s suave combination of emotion, message, and sharp humor alone make it a film that shouldn’t be missed. Heck, the lone fact we get to see Harrison Ford wear an apron and share cooking recipes is reason enough to see the film. The film also has a really “cute” ending to it all, wrapping up all the plot lines in what seems like an other-worldly layer of “cute”. It was also fun to hear a gasp and a re-assuring “awww” in a few scenes of the closing montage. All in all, it’s hard not to walk out of Morning Glory with a smile. If there is anything wrong with Morning Glory, it’s that it’s a little uneven, more specifically at times with its tone. There are some moments that are a little too awkwardly handled to be funny and then there’s the rare dramatic moment that takes a little too long to sink in. It kills me to not give Morning Glory a 5 out of 5, but even with a 4, it’s an absolute recommendation to see it, especially if you’re a fan of the genre. At times Morning Glory comes off a little bit of a dark comedy, other times it’s a broad comedy, and yet at other times it’s a romantic comedy. To a casual viewer though or to someone like me just in the market for a great feel-good comedy, there’s nothing quite like Morning Glory. It’s funny, it’s smart, there’s a lens flare or two, and by the end you’ll have an unshakable smile and a special place in your heart that’s been filled by Morning Glory.
4 out of 5