Some laughs, some charm and no chiselled chump in sight, but the edges are covered in treacle.
Rachel McAdams, she of the saucer eyes and ivory smile, made all the girls cry in The Notebook and all the boys cry in Wedding Crashers. After that promising start, however, she has been criminally ill-served by the Hollywood machine, playing candy (Sherlock Holmes), plucky (State of Play) and sappy (The Time Traveller’s Wife).
In Morning Glory, she gets to do perky as Becky Fuller, a determined TV producer trying to make it in recession-era America.
Becky’s big chance sees her attempting to whip into shape ailing morning talk show Daybreak. Her plan is to unite morose newsman Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) with long-term anchor and alpha-bitch Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton, having fun).
Morning Glory shares its name with the Katharine Hepburn film from 1933. There, Hepburn played a talented actress struggling to be recognised for anything more than her looks. Eighty years later, it seems that little has changed.
At times, Morning Glory musters the courage to say something interesting, both about women in work – the fixed roles and silent assumptions – and about the failings of the modern media – the crippling budgets, the dumbing down, the ceaseless dichotomy between information and entertainment.
But it retires from both, sliding inexorably into cloying sentiment. Each character, once established, never breaks the mould of predictability, while Becky, who begins the film with such idealism, is never granted the chance of self-realisation.
Reticent to the point of hidebound, the movie reeks of compromise. Even as a vehicle for an extraordinary actress, it fails to use McAdams for more than her looks. An early montage sees Becky riding a ferry across the Hudson River while the Statue of Liberty rises beyond her. It’s a windswept picture of beauty, as simple and enduring as Hollywood gets. But McAdams deserves to be recognised for so much more.
One face, one name on the poster. No chiselled chump in sight.
Some laughs, some charm, but edges covered in treacle.
A vehicle for an effortless performer, but void of conviction.