It Is What It Is and It’s Great

I re-watched Morning Glory last night; I love that movie, and I’m trying to understand why it  never got any traction in theaters in spite of a sterling cast and a solid concept.  My conclusion: Snotty critics who disapprove of the genre (lightweight comedy) and truly bad marketing.  I’m annoyed.

The plot is about a young producer and a old news icon butting heads over what journalism needs to be in the twenty-first century.  That’s a great concept, especially when you have Rachel McAdams as the young producer and Harrison Ford as the grumpy news superstar.  Throw in Patrick Wilson as McAdams’ love interest and Diane Keaton as Ford’s nemesis and a solidly funny script, and this should have been a comedy hit.  

Instead it hit bad reviews (56% aggregate on Rotten Tomatoes) and poorly set-up expectations.  A trailer that summarized the entire movie probably wasn’t a help, either.  In the end, I think it was torpedoed for being what it was: a comedy about a serious subject that stayed fluffy as a bunny.  It wasn’t supposed to be Broadcast News, folks.  It was supposed to be fun.

I think the same thing happens to romance novels.  If you are faithful to the genre, you get the equivalent of “another one of those.”  If you try something different, you get, “Well, it’s not Shakespeare” or “this transcends the genre.”   Well, it’s not supposed to be Shakespeare.  Shakespeare would not sell well today: his language is brilliant if you happen to like that kind of language (I do), but his stories . . . try selling Hero marrying Claudio after he slut shames her or Katherine bending her knee as a dutiful wife to Petruchio.  Hell, try selling Henry VIII today.  Even the Elizabethans hated that one.  As far as transcending the genre, no.  It is the genre.  If you keep categorizing stories you like as not that genre, you’re being an elitist jerk.  Stop that.

Where was I?

Right, critical gatekeeping.  So romance and comedy are lower tiers of respectable storytelling. Given that, it’s no wonder Morning Glory got pummeled; it’s women’s fiction and comedy with a romantic subplot.  They probably had to dig down another layer to categorize that low enough.

And then there’s expectation from the poster (book cover).  The most prevalent poster (see above) looks like a romcom.  Nope.  Here are two posters that accurately reflect the movie.   I’d never seen them until I went looking for the poster I knew.

So snotty reviews (Roger Ebert and Peter Travers loved it, though) and bad marketing shot a good movie in the knee because critics are jerks and marketing departments want to sell the movie/book, not the story, which leads to viewer/reader crankiness.  

So what do I like about it?

The Protagonist: Becky Fuller is a very young producer on a New Jersey morning show who ends up at the helm of the fourth rated (out of four) morning shows in New York.  I am not generally a Rachel McAdams fan but she is pitch perfect as the manic Becky, wild-eyed determined to put Daybreak on top no matter what she or her anchors have to do.   She was kind of desperately cute in the beginning and it’s a pleasant beginning, so I was putting up with her boundless enthusiasm until she sat down at her first meeting with the Daybreak staff.  As a dozen people talk to her at once, clearly not respecting her, she looks wide-eyed at all of them, and the sense is that she’s completely overwhelmed.  Then they stop talking and she starts, it’s one of the best competence porn scenes ever, books, movies, TV, I don’t care, that scene is a stunner.  And I just freaking loved Becky from then on.  

The Antagonist :Mike Pomeroy is a venerated newsman–think Dan Rather, Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw–who is forced onto Daybreak because Becky can read contracts.  He does not want to be there and makes himself as objectionable as possible.  He is also Harrison Ford, having a wonderful time being a complete bastard.

The Plot: In order to keep Daybreak on the air, Becky must boost its ratings while working with two anchors–Pomeroy and Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton)–who loathe each other.   While there’s not much suspense as to whether Becky will get those ratings up–this is a HAPPY movie, people–the hell she has to go through, not to mention the hell she puts other people through, is extremely entertaining.  The best part: Ford and Keaton having a wonderful time being awful to each other.  

The Romance Subplot: Okay, this is pretty standard stuff, but McAdams and Patrick Wilson sell it anyway.   And it’s integral to the plot because for one horrible year, Wilson’s Adam Bennett was a produce for Pomeroy, who called him Senor Dipshit everyday. He becomes Becky’s guide to working with Pomeroy and the other side of the work/play equation which for Becky up till now has been work/work.  Also, it’s fun.

And that’s really the summary here: This is a fun, feel-good movie with a great cast and some truly laugh-out-loud moments.   Plus Roger Ebert and Peter Travers loved it, and those are the reviewers I pay attention to (RIP Ebert).  

Rent or buy on Amazon, watch on YouTube, get the DVD from Netflix.   Ignore the critics and the marketing.  Have a good time, damn it.

41 thoughts on “It Is What It Is and It’s Great

  1. I also adore “Morning Glory” —- it’s one of my go-to faves. Everything is just pitch perfect. (It’s a Cruise movie, even the supporting cast is perfect.)

    I also don’t understand why it never got the accolades it should have — it’s adorable. As a matter of fact, I watched it for the umpteenth time again this weekend. If it was a paperback, the coverould be falling off.

    BONUS: my hubby really enjoyed it as well.

  2. I love that movie too. I think I first watched it after you talked about it (maybe on PopD?). Although I have loved Rachel McAdams ever since I saw her on Slings & Arrows.

    I love that they use rom com tropes to tell the story of the friendship between McAdams character and Ford’s. Best rom com run ever.

  3. I don’t even remember seeing this movie advertised and now I have to see it.

    I love the first scene.

  4. I enjoyed “Morning Glory” after basically falling over it on a streaming-browse. The best poster for that movie is definitely the “breakfast TV just got interesting” one. The “kicking up pink pump” one is HORRIBLE. Could the marketing team have generated anything *less* respectful of the character’s career?

    Have to confess I was sort of expecting/dreading that the filmmakers would try to shoehorn some “romance” between McAdams and Ford. That would have been gross and I’m glad they didn’t do it. I mean, he’s still eminently attractive, but power imbalance/age difference would have produced a very high skeeve factor.

  5. Okay, going to put that on the list to watch. I’ve watched plenty of stuff critics have panned or other people have been snooty about and come out thinking why didn’t they like that, that was fun.

  6. Oh, I remember this! I think I checked it out from the library on a whim. I know it’s one of the movies I have watched with my mom. Maybe a sister too. We liked it.

    Rachel McAdams was really good. She needs the right parts to shine and this worked.

  7. I didn’t watch it when it came out because I assumed it was yet another Hollywood film about an 80 year old man getting the 20 year old girl. Not interested. Finally someone told me that’s not what it was. I watched it and loved it. I hadn’t read reviews.

    1. We did a PopD podcast on it, but I don’t remember much about that except hating that she wore a pink prom dress to an interview.

      1. Yeah, that was more than a bit weird. I mean, okay, they did put a jacket over it to “serious” it up, but, criminy, that was a bad wardrobe decision.

      2. I hated that last costume so much, it’s the thing that stands out about the film for me. She was so great for the rest of it, and then … sundress? Was it laundry day?

  8. This movie is so funny. Harrison Ford was obviously enjoying himself. The part where Becky chases him down and drags him from the bar is really great. McAdams did a really wonderful job balancing the incredibly chipper attitude and Becky’s skill. My favorite comment on her enthusiasm from the other characters is Jeff Goldblum asking her if she’s going to sing.

      1. He has a minor role as the exec who interviews her, hires her, and then puts pressure on her. He’s really terrific, but so is everybody in this movie. John Pankow is wonderful.

  9. I was initially influenced by the poor marketing. Then a friend gave me the dvd and I had nothing g to watch.

    That competence porn scene was the best ever. Jeff Goldblum NOT playing a scientist was excellent. John Pankow as a straight foil to everyone else’s mania was good too.

    Rachel McAdams is not generally in a ‘must watch’ category for me. ( I have a similar reaction to Amy Adams. ) But her earnestness in the portrayal was tempered with her willingness to manipulate the management to get what she needed for the good of the show.

  10. I did not go see Willow in the theaters because the critics panned it so badly. Everyone hated it.

    I love that movie. I quote that movie. When I’m having a bad day, I watch that movie.

    I stopped listening to critics after that movie.

    1. Years ago there was some highly acclaimed reviewer (name and newspaper long since forgotten) whose taste IMO was so appalling, that if he loved it, I would avoid it and if he panned it, it moved to the top of my list.

      Don’t think I ever went wrong once I figured that out…

    2. I also love Willow, and when I watch it I listen to the music over the credits to the very very end, to the sound of the waves.

  11. I loved this one. I actually saw it before I ever saw Broadcast News, and while they are obviously different movies in different genres, it did make me notice that the ending in Broadcast News really didn’t work for me. I realized that for me personally, I’d much rather have a predictable ending that ends a conflict as a result of the choices the characters make, than a less predictable, more realistic ending that happens because of external circumstances that unlock the conflict box so the conflict just fizzles out and the characters go on their way.

  12. I remember not liking that movie but not much else. Now I think I may have been a victim of disappointed expectations because of marketing. I’ll have to try it again. You characters favorite movies are always my favorite movies so I trust your judgement!

  13. Funny timing. Just re-watched my DVD of this last week. Think one of my fave lines (spoiler alert) is: “He’s not going to ask you twice.”

    I learned long ago not to go by reviews. Especially when so many sites that tabulate reviews are mostly male driven (by this I mean stats show majority of reviews left by males), so they aren’t really representative of the whole, and often intended, audience.

    Do like Rachel McAdams. Find her charming and, as a fellow Canadian, her overall upbeat niceness that she brings to her performances reads as genuine to me. Think she’s very relatable.

    Bonus of this movie for me is that it’s a fun romcom I can share with my son (big Ford fan) who actually thanked me for showing him the film because he wouldn’t have sought it out but liked it a lot.:)

  14. This came out in 2010 so I was in the middle of untreated PPD, 2 kids under the age of 2 and a husband on a severely restricted diet which left EVERYTHING else on my shoulders. No, I don’t have many fond memories of 2010.

    I’ll keep an eye out for it. I could use something like this.

  15. This makes me think of The Intern, which I assumed was a very badly done romantic comedy where the working woman learns to give up her career to be really happy, but which turned out to be really great.

    The first poster, and the cast, made me think awful age gap romance and then the title Morning Glory implies bromance-style dick jokes. Now I’m going to watch it!

  16. Scrolled through the cable networks last night trying to find something to watch, with a thousand stations and shows I accidently found the movie Morning Glory on POP. And it had very, very few commercials. I think I like Harrison Ford’s scruffy look over his slicked back look. In the movie not only would Rachel McAdam’s character be out of a job but so wouldn’t everybody else.

  17. Never saw the movie, but that first poster calls to mind Doris Day or Debbie Reynolds. The one with the coffee cup is the best.

  18. I agree completely with the problems of genrefication. Just reread Maybe This Time. I’ve had a different reaction to that story (always positive) every time I’ve read it. The first time I was really shocked that ghosts did exist. That seemed weird for a Crusie tale yet was a exhilarating slap in the face for Henry James. In subsequent reads I’ve paid attention to the Archer paleness, North and Andie’s characters and their gradual reuniting which culminates with the “fight” scene of arguing out their past, and the defining of motherhood/commitment.

    I love romances involving characters over 30 and a special favorite is those which are not leading to babies (yay Min and Cal!).

    1. Andie and North didn’t have babies, either. They had Alice and Carter and that was enough.
      Henry James wrote a letter in which he said there were ghosts; I think the Freudians came in later although their theory works very well, too. Eye of the beholder or at least the be-reader there, I think.

      1. Interesting on James. Perhaps I don’t give him credit for his female leads.

        Yes, Andie is emphatic about not having kids; Will doesn’t listen just as other guys in your other books don’t listen.

        I don’t have time to check all your books, but only Shane and Agnes seem determined (and fittingly so) to have kids. Probably I’ve forgotten others who plan to have children as part of the resolution of their stories (I wasn’t surprised when Phin and Sophy had Dempsey, but I don’t remember kids as a plan).

        I like that. Kids don’t make a woman or a marriage. They’re something else.

        I don’t know the Freudian theory of Turn of the Screw. Do they blame the governess?

        Anyway, thanks for all: the books and all the more you keep giving.

        1. The Freudian theory is that the ghosts are all in the governess’s head because she’s so horribly repressed. She has all these sexual feelings and they manifest themselves as the ghosts. And then there’s that bit with Miles at the end, they have a field day with that.
          It really is a story full of horrors either way you read it.

          My theory of kids in fiction: They’re going to make the relationship more difficult, so my default is that they don’t want them. But the more traditional the characters, the more likely it is that they’d marry, spend a year centering themselves and establishing the marriage and then have one or two. Phin and Shane were two of the most traditional men I wrote (actually, Bob wrote Shane), so even though Sophie and Agnes weren’t jonesing for kids, I knew they’d probably go for it. Andie and North wouldn’t. If Southie married, he would; he’d want somebody to play with. Min and Cal wouldn’t, but they’d be fabulous as aunt and uncle. The jury’s out on Tilda and Davy; I’ll cross that maternity ward when I write Alice and Nadine.

    2. The first chapter of Maybe This Time is my palette cleanser. When I’ve read a horrible first chapter, I try to keep the bad writing from rubbing off on me by rereading that first chapter. Also, every once in awhile I think about Flo and “Sea Goat” and just laugh. Or the line where “Andie began to wish for a Harold (or was it Walter) of her own.” Love.

      Has anyone seen Austenland? Funny and fun and perfect in many ways. And Trout Fishing in Yemen. So many good scenes.

      1. Is Archer North the Emperor because he recognizes that May isn’t Andie, giving the kids time to burn May’s hair?

        Or is May the Emperor because she’s the lasting threat that has to be put out so that the good guys to win?

          1. I think it’s nice to have a dangly tidbit that isn’t necessary to the resolution but that the reader can tickle herself with.

  19. Just finished watching it and enjoyed it immensely. Harrison Ford was having a great time. My second favorite part was the weatherman.

    Besides Willow, I think Ladyhawke wasn’t given the credit it deserved. The scenery itself was breathtaking and the cinematography was exceptional. That is my favorite movie.


Comments are closed.