Were there not a good 35 years between them, Rachel McAdams and Harrison Ford would make an excellent onscreen couple. Shame, then, that their considerable chemistry is harnessed for purely professional purposes in “Morning Glory,” a genially midrange if overlong romantic comedy from director Roger Michell. Updating “Broadcast News” for a more journalistically toxic era, the Paramount release has precious little edge, though it does manage a decent enough laughs-to-duds ratio, and its highly compatible cast should be attraction enough to land some solid returns when it opens wide on Nov. 10.
When devising lead characters, few modern romantic comedies seem to grasp the fine-line distinction between likably eccentric and exhaustingly neurotic, but McAdams fortunately lands on the right side of the equation here. As Becky Fuller, a driven 28-year-old morning news producer, she believably creates a woman who can micromanage several dozen demanding tasks at once, yet nods “yes” when talking on the phone; who is surgically attached to her BlackBerry, yet sometimes leaves her apartment with no pants. While the character could have easily edged into cartoonish territory, McAdams keeps her wits about her, exhibiting a flustery physicality that is delightful to watch.
As written by “The Devil Wears Prada” scribe Aline Brosh McKenna, McAdams’ character faces a dilemma virtually identical to Anne Hathaway’s in “Prada”: Both are idealistic young news junkies, subservient to respected yet abusive mentors, and pressured by script contrivances into anemic romantic subplots.
A lover of that distinctly American hodgepodge of actual news, cooking segments and time-killing human interest stories, Becky gets her big break into the morning news world when she’s hired by a fatalistic exec (Jeff Goldblum) at fictional net IBS (zing!) to produce the channel’s “Daybreak.” Routinely last in the ratings and cursed with a revolving cast of male counterparts for anchor Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton), the show is soon threatened with cancellation unless Becky can reverse its fortunes.
Enter Ford’s Mike Pomeroy, a fatuous, semi-retired Dan Rather-style newsman Becky unwillingly recruits through a contractual loophole. Pomeroy makes no secret of his disgust for the show’s soft-focus approach, while Becky begins exploring ever more “Jackass”-style stunts to attract attention.
The expected showdown between hard journalism and fluffy entertainment never quite materializes — in fact, a number of hinted-at subplots simply disappear — but the bickering between Ford and McAdams (and to a lesser degree, Ford and Keaton) throws off some great sparks. There’s none of that fire between Becky and her studly young beau (Patrick Wilson), however, as the two seem destined for conflict-free coupledom from first meeting.
Pic’s technical pedigree is solid, though director Michell (“Notting Hill”) plays a number of plot points with eye-rolling obviousness and lays it on a bit thick at times. With a performer as energetic as McAdams, surely there’s no need to play two montages in fast-forward.
Keaton is fine but marginal here, though she gamely kisses frogs and does an extremely square dance with 50 Cent. Ford’s character is a bit one-note, and his gravelly intonation suggests a drunken poet more than a respected newsman, yet he makes a meal of the role all the same, and his pronunciation of the word “frittata” may well be the film’s high point.