Friday, 12 November 2010

Morning Glory - A "Chick Flick" of a Different Variety

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Morning Glory is not your average chick flick, though it embodies most of the necessary elements in order to be characterized as such. Of course, there is a beautiful and highly capable protagonist in need of a hero, and a handsome man with whom the lovely leading lady becomes enamored, but in a deviation from the standard chick flick, he is not a prince charming who swoops in and saves the day. In fact, our heroine owes much more of her “rescue” to a significantly older gentleman, and above all, to herself.

Rachel McAdams endearingly plays the role of Becky Fuller, an upstart television producer who accepts the challenge of breathing life into a morning program — Day Break — that desperately needs a jumpstart. The challenge with which she is confronted, however, is far more cumbersome than she could have anticipated. From warring co-hosts and a disheartened staff to struggling storylines, Becky is overwhelmed, but maintains a positive attitude that things will soon improve.

Enter Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) as an addition to Becky’s morning show. Becky had thought that Mike’s experiences as a notable, award-winning journalist would help revive the morale of her staff, as well as her ratings, but instead what she gets is a man embittered by his transition from a once legendary news anchor to a morning talk-show host who discusses baby chicks and pap smears on air.

In addition to her work woes, Becky’s ambitious career leaves little time for socialization. Totally engrossed in her job, Becky finds that her life is rather lonely, creating a catch-22 of sorts since her loneliness allows her to indulge her career ambitions further, thereby leaving even less time for friendships or relationships outside of work.

Most interesting, however, is how little Becky seems to be concerned with her lack of social life. Though those around her voice their concerns over her lack of a personal life, she herself seems perfectly content to remain a workaholic.

In fact, even after she meets her dashing love interest, Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson), Becky makes it clear that her career will remain her top priority.

And in the end, her determined work ethic proves to pay off royally — and she still gets to keep the prince, after making only minor concessions like throwing her constantly ringing phone into the refrigerator for momentary breaks.

Morning Glory resembles The Devil Wears Prada — both were written by Aline Brosh McKenna — in that both female protagonists are confronted by a choice between their career and their overall happiness. However, as opposed to the heroine in The Devil Wears Prada, who is guilt-ridden by her virtual soul-selling that ultimately propels her forward in her career, Becky needs to make only minor tweaks to strike a good balance between her work and her life, and has very little if anything for which she should feel regret.

And rather than having to change herself in order to keep the man she loves, as was the case in The Devil Wears Prada, Becky simply finds a man who respects and accepts her ambitious loyalty to her career.

Becky’s relationship with anchor Mike Pomeroy is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story. While Mike seemingly disappoints Becky on nearly a daily basis, her youthful persistence and positive outlook begins to chip away at his rough exterior. Their relationship, reminiscent of that of a father and daughter, is entirely engrossing to the audience. It is both comical and heartbreaking at times, but overall teaches both characters a lesson about the importance of trust and compromise. In fact, Becky’s relationship with Mike appears to be far more important to the plot of the story than that between her and her beau, an unexpected but pleasant twist on the standard plot of a film initially perceived to be a chick flick.

McAdams and Ford present superb depictions of their characters. McAdams manages to capture the essence of a confident and optimistic 28-year-old upstart. When she is onscreen, moviegoers cannot help but smile at her naiveté and hope for her sake that she never loses her ability to take charge and to see the glass as half-full, something that could only be accomplished by good acting.

Likewise, Ford plays his role so well that he at times seems frightening, but not Jack Nicholson in The Shining kind of frightening; it’s more in the way a grandfather can appear frightening if you interrupt him while he is watching the baseball game or reading the paper. Overall, however, his role does not ask him to play simply a grumpy old man, but one who knows what it means to lose everything to a career and who has learned that in order to make such loss worthwhile, he must remain steadfast in his career. Ford’s performance as such is commanding.

In addition to an enthralling plot and intriguing characterization/acting, Morning Glory is quite funny. When Mike Pomeroy first begins as an anchor on Day Break, he takes every opportunity to mock the show as one that appeals to a less intelligent audience. While Becky and her staff work diligently on a teaser that would introduce the audience to Mike’s addition to Day Break, Pomeroy, stone-faced, replies, “Why not just say watch Mike Pomeroy before your morning dump?” Later, poking fun at the show’s struggling ratings, Mike states, “I’m going to appear on national television in front of 6 or 8 people.”

Likewise, Becky’s ploys to increase the show’s ratings are hilarious, as they involve asking a 50+-year-old anchor (Diane Keaton) to rap alongside rapper "50 cent," and expecting another aging announcer, Ernie, to engage in a variety of frightening activities such as riding a terrifying new roller coaster and jumping out of an airplane. In fact, Ernie’s willingness to comply with Becky’s extreme requests may lead moviegoers to wonder if he is a masochist as they laugh at each bizarre endeavor.

One unfortunate choice in Morning Glory, as with most modern films, is that while Becky has everything going for her — a budding career, beauty, intelligence, and charm — she diminishes her value by sleeping with Adam on the first date. Becky has so much more to offer than simply her physical self, but unfortunately, the film missed the opportunity to teach this lesson to its younger female viewers. Moviegoers would agree that Becky’s strength lies in her confidence and resilience, attributes that should have virtually prevented her from jumping into bed with a man whom she hardly knows. In the end, Mike proves to be interested in more than just sex, but it is disheartening to see movie heroines make choices that in the real world could have dire physical and emotional consequences.

Overall, Morning Glory is a lot of fun to watch and would likely appeal to most female audiences, though I would not recommend it for young moviegoers.

Photo of Rachel McAdams: AP Images

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