By NEIL POND
Hollywood veterans Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton may be the most recognizable faces in â€śMorning Glory.â€ť But this new romantic comedy built around a struggling network-television morning show really belongs to Rachel McAdams, who shoulders most of the comedy and all the romance.
McAdams plays Becky, the perky, young, anxious-to-prove-herself TV producer hired to turn around the fortunes of a fictitious New York wake-up program called â€śDaybreak,â€ť which trails a distant fourth in the ratings behind â€śToday,â€ť â€śGood Morning Americaâ€ť and---as another character tells her---â€ťwhatever theyâ€™re calling the crap theyâ€™re doing over at CBS.â€ť
She quickly discovers that the hardest part of the job is handling her contentious co-hosts, prickly former beauty queen Colleen Peck (Keaton) and cranky veteran newshound Mike Pomeroy (Ford).
The â€śDaybreakâ€ť ratings arenâ€™t the only things in the dumpster. So is Beckyâ€™s love life---until, that is, she meets a charming, hunky news reporter (Patrick Wilson) who offers her a passionate respite from her chaotic, high-pressure job.
McAdams is the â€śfresh faceâ€ť here, but she isnâ€™t exactly a Hollywood newbie. Many viewers will remember her breakout role in â€śThe Notebookâ€ť (2004) or as Sherlock Holmesâ€™ girlfriend opposite Robert Downey Jr. in last yearâ€™s box-office reincarnation of the Scotland Yard sleuth.
Watching McAdams juggle all the pieces provides much of the laughs, but both Keaton and Ford get some positively hilarious traction as Colleen and Mike clash on the air and compete for the spotlight. Jeff Goldblum is deliciously dry as the network exec who hires Becky, spelling out in no uncertain terms the early-morning mess that has become her responsibility.
An underlying theme in the movie is the long battle between news and entertainment on the TV airwaves. Mike, whose hard-hitting journalism career includes pulling Colin Powell out of a burning helicopter and wiping down Mother Teresaâ€™s fevered forehead during a cholera epidemic, thinks morning television is nothing but sugarcoated puffery. He canâ€™t even bring himself to say the word â€śfluffy.â€ť
Colleen, on the other hand, is all smile over substance, giving herself to whatever stunt the TV moment offers---kissing a frog, donning a fat suit to bump bellies with a sumo wrestler, bustinâ€™ a move with special guest rapper 50 Cent.
In one heated hallway encounter, Mike equates â€śDaybreakâ€ť to the fattening, junk-food doughnut heâ€™s just plucked off the food-service table. Becky picks up a prop of her own to counter him: a box of bran flakes, which she waves in his face to make her point that viewers donâ€™t want Mikeâ€™s husky, high-fiber hard news for breakfast every morning.
Itâ€™s fitting that Mike finally comes around to making something thatâ€™s both fluffy and nutritious, a frittata, for a â€śDaybreakâ€ť cooking segment. One of the things he likes about it, he notes, is that you can use just about any ingredients youâ€™ve got handy.
Throw in some of this, slice up a little of that, whisk it around, turn up the heat and voila, youâ€™ve got a morning meal---or a morning TV show like â€śDaybreak,â€ť with a couple of comically combustive co-hosts, a bunch of colorful odds â€™nâ€™ ends cohorts, and a spunky young executive producer just out of camera range trying keep it all from bursting into flames.