Harrison Ford makes Morning Glory. World-weary aloofness and snide one-liners mark a return to form for an actor too long cruising on his own former glory. Deadpan looks and arch reactions are pitch-perfect. It’s just a pity we don’t get more of them – or of his ascerbic interchanges with Keaton. Like the show, the film gambles on Ford’s gravitas.
The caricatures and quirks of TV production are the stuff of Morning Glory. Like The Devil Wears Prada, and aiming for the same audience - and sharing the same writer - it’s a breezy, bitchy crowd-pleaser, leaving the audience on a Sunny Delight high without the saccharine ickiness.
Crassness can’t be avoided and there’s a running ‘he’s a dick’ kind of humour about one character which seems out of place. But Ford’s timing and studio-boss Jeff Goldblum’s great way with words make the dialogue shine, if not sparkle. “I’ve won 16 Emmys, a Pulitzer...” growls Ford; “...I pulled Colin Powell from a burning jeep. I laid a cool wash-cloth on Mother Theresa’s head during a cholera epidemic”. The stereotype of American ignorance about world affairs and its capacity for trivia run throughout. And some slapstick humour, as a nerdy reporter finds fame with a series of ratings-chasing Jackass-style stunts, ensuring that there are chuckles for all tastes.
Breakfast show battles are no stranger to our own news headlines these days, so there’s much that’s familiar in Morning Glory. Celebs preening themselves, the pros and cons of ageing anchors in front of the camera, a woman trying to prove herself in a male-dominated environment: it’s all grist to director Roger (Notting Hill) Michell’s mill. Finally, it all comes down to the fizzy interplay between the stars, including McAdams’ entertaining and credible Becky, and a more than usually literate script. The film also has a glitzy glow that looks great on the big screen. And it’s a rare thing these days for a comedy to appeal successfully across the adult age range.
Enjoyable but underplaying its key strength (Ford’s witty one-liners), it’s ultimately a touch unmemorable. And notable mostly for the eye-opener that Harrison Ford is still one to watch given the right material. It makes you look forward with renewed interest to his role as the sheriff in this year’s Cowboys and Aliens. No, really.