• Day 265: “Morning Glory” – Not a Movie for Diabetics

    Date: 2010.11.09 | Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

    Last night I returned to the scene of a former career detour: the few years I spent as an entertainment reporter and movie critic on American television.

    I went to a critics screening near Lincoln Center of a new movie starring Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton called “Morning Glory.” It purports to be a quasi rom-com set on a morning TV show like Good Day New York but it’s so dated you’d think it was 1975.

    Dated, but bizarre.  Barely a mention is made of the Internet, which is the process of decimating network news as it did with the music industry.  At the same time the fictional show’s morning anchors are 64 (Keaton) and 68 (Harrison) which actually makes sense in a world where no one under 40 watches TV anymore and the airwaves are filled with matronly Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford types.

    The first sign that this was a piece of dreck, literally, was when I saw the call letters for the network where the morning show, Daybreak, takes place:  IBS.

    What screenwriter comes up with the acronym for Irritable Bowel Syndrome for the name of a faux network for a film?   One that’s trying to tell us how he feels about his own creation?

    I could go on about the creaky plot involving an eager new executive producer (McAdams) hired to turn a troubled morning show with egomaniacal co-anchors into a ratings success against, of course, all odds.

    Every turn is telegraphed about 15 minutes in advance and every scene is reminiscent of something you’ve seen before – but probably in a much better movie. (1976′s brilliant Network and 1987′s Broadcast News remain the gold standards of the genre.)

    But what the movie almost unwatchable for me was the star, Rachel McAdams.

    She’s playing the ultimate American film archetype: the cute, yet fuckable, spunky yet vulnerable, heroine who by dint of her moxie comes in and saves the day.

    She redeems bitter ex-foreign correspondent Ford (who, along with network executive Jeff Goldblum, are the only bright spots in the movie), keeps the show on the air and gets the guy.

    All while wearing a ponytail and bangs usually seen on pre-teens and flashing a constant simpering, saccharine smile that made me feel as if her main focus was reveling in her own adorableness.

    Glucose meters should be handed out to audience members.

    I’ve spent the last six years living in France and realized with a shock last night that it’s taken its toll.

    French women just don’t act like this – in real life or in the movies. Walk the streets of Paris or the south of France or deep in the Cevennes – you just aren’t going to find any French woman over 25 who gets over by wearing a ponytail and the kind of smile you associate with a 5-year-old girl who’s just been taken out for ice cream by her daddy. Nor are they likely to weep in public.

    The French call Americans les grands enfants – or large children.  I hope not too many of them see this movie.

    Because  in Morning Glory, whatever the situation, McAdams beams adorably.  She pouts a few times, especially when grumpy ex-newsman Ford (rightly) mocks her bangs and tells her she has “daddy issues.”  And of course she tears up more than a few times, all in the process of winning over said daddy figure.

    Note:  What made Holly Hunter’s equally high-strung and cute TV producer so memorable in Broadcast News was that she had her crying fit in private after hanging up the phone from a tough call.

    When McAdams’ love interest, played by Patrick Wilson, came onscreen, there was zero chemistry between them.  All I could see were their high cheekbones, blinding Zoom!-style bleached white teeth and the sense they were both celebrating their own good looks and winning smiles so much they couldn’t even see each other.

    My old friend, longtime movie critic Jeffrey Lyons sat right next to us last night. Jeffrey and  sat through a screening of Million Dollar Baby years ago and as far as I know were the only two people in the universe who disliked it.  I was sure Jeffrey would have harsh words for this movie as well.

    He liked it!  So did Rex Reed!

    I guess they like spunk.  Me, I’m with Lou Grant.