Few actors have a narrower range than Harrison Ford. He doesn’t do accents. He doesn’t emote. He can’t be expected to display any real exuberance. Yet within that range, he can be immensely appealing: irascible yet charming, with a rogue’s smile. It’s been a while since Ford has been cast properly—or, let’s face it, has looked engaged in what he’s doing—but as a grizzled Dan Rather type in the smart, generously entertaining comedy Morning Glory, he reconnects to his inner Han Solo, accessing the loveable bastard that made him a movie star in the first place. And he has the perfect foil in Rachel McAdams, who stars as a TV news producer whose unflagging positivity and stick-to-it-iveness chip away at his defenses like a battering ram against a fortress wall.
Morning Glory is like a spiritual cousin to Broadcast News, only set after the networks have been permanently lost to puff pieces on hot baby names and cooking sessions with Rocco DiSpirito. And McAdams does a lighter-side-of-the-news take on the Holly Hunter character, playing a high-strung go-getter whose obsession with work takes a toll on her personal life. Her aggression earns her an opportunity to serve as executive producer on Daybreak, a fourth-rated morning show that’s been on the air for 47 years and appeals strictly to the bedpan crowd. Beyond controlling on-air talent like Diane Keaton, who runs through co-anchors and producers like toilet tissue, McAdams is determined to infuse the show with fresh ideas. In a desperate move, she coerces Ford’s pissy, multiple-award-winning TV-news journalist to pair up with Keaton, but he refuses to engage in banter or silly stories.
Patrick Wilson rounds out the cast as McAdams’ love interest, but his presence seems necessary only to classify Morning Glory as a romantic comedy. The heart of the movie is really McAdams’ wonderfully contentious relationship with Ford, and more broadly, Daybreak’s staff, who work their tails off to improve a show that looks more like public access than like Good Morning, America. Director Roger Michell (Persuasion, Notting Hill) keeps the action fleet and energetic, and much like his heroine, he wrangles a large ensemble into a coherent, highly functioning unit. The message of Morning Glory—that austere TV journalists could stand to lighten up a bit—may be dubious, but Michell and his cast sell it persuasively.