3 STARS – Insightful
It is natural for a person to fight against aging and the losses it brings. But perhaps the most difficult loss is losing the esteem that our professional lives provided. Having once been at the top of our game, and sometimes even at the top of the heap, the slipping of ability and downward slide in position can turn us into a bitter person whose anger isolates us. This is experienced by anchorman Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) in Roger Michell’s film “Morning Glory.”
At the other end of the career climb is Becky Hunter (Rachel McAdams), an ambitious young woman whose whole life is caught up in her job of producing an early morning TV show. Becky’s drive to achieve success in her job began when she was eight years old and she dreamed of becoming the executive director of a morning news show. Their lives intersect when they work together on the Daybreak show, at the bottom of the network rankings. This is the story of not only Pomeroy’s bitter losses but also Becky’s drive that gets a person to the top, only to lose it again. Sacrificing virtually everything when she finally gets her chance to prove herself when a struggling show on IBS hires her, Becky has to overcome not only Pomeroy’s bitterness but also the lovely co-anchor Colleen Peck’s (Diane Keaton) narcissistic demands.
Written by Aline Brosh McKenna (27 Dresses and The Devil Wears Prada), the film presents valuable insights into human behavior with comedic skill. This is seen not only in how McKenna presents the complex characters of the two leads, but also in opening up the world of morning news shows and the incongruous nature of entertainment news.
What makes the story work is the mutual dependence upon one another that Pomeroy and Becky develop. Fighting to gain her dream, while Pomeroy is fighting to not lose his, Becky’s brilliant mind and creative abilities realize the value that having Pomeroy as an anchor of the show could bring to her new position as director of “Daybreak.” But Pomeroy is a highly decorated newscaster who sees anchoring a morning show as beneath him. It is their interaction that enriches both of them as well as those on the journey with them.
Along for this enjoyable ride is a less-well-developed love interest of Becky’s named Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson) and a hard-nosed network executive named Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum). Together with Keaton’s Colleen Peck, each adds a humorous facet to the story though their characters are clearly secondary to Pomeroy and Becky.
The film’s main message, that we can gain the world but lose our own selves, is a worthy lesson. The climax of the film occurs when Pomeroy is able to scoop a major story and, in a vulnerable moment, explains that he needed Becky to know that he could still do the reporting that won him his many awards. As he explains that he sacrificed everything, including his children and grandchildren for his career, he points out to Becky that she is even more driven than he was. Although we don’t know whether she was able to change her life to prioritize her relationships, the message is clear to all who view this tale.
The glory of the morning is a fading moment of each day. The achievements of this life are just as short-lived, however much we may think differently. “Morning Glory” reminds us of this truth and is an insightful comedy for adults that we recommend.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. Often in the beginning stages of building a career, we are also at the age to create life-long relationships. How did you or how are you navigating these two sometimes colliding goals?
2. We are not given enough information to know why Adam is so interested in Becky, except that she is “different”. But why do you think such a man who has everything would be attracted to her? Do you think their relationship will last? Why or why not?
3. The lack of confidence that Becky’s mother (Patti D’Arbanville) exhibited did not stop Becky from attempting her dream. Do you feel your mother or father helped you to have confidence in life or hurt you? Why do you answer as you do?