Release Date: January 6, 2011
The first twenty minutes of Morning Glory took me back twenty years. I started my media career in a number of smallish newsrooms that mirrored the frantic pace the film’s key character Becky Fuller finds herself in: tight-knit teams always lurching between the polar opposites of promotion and program closure. So, suspecting that Hollywood would follow its familiar path from trial to triumph, I was more than a little interested to learn what Morning Glory would suggest was the secret of success.
Becky Fuller, played by Rachel McAdams, is the manic television producer of a mid-size morning news program. When her job gets canned she has to evaluate whether or not her dream career in television is really worth the destruction it has wreaked on the rest of her life. Her mother summarises her situation in a way only those nearest and dearest to us can:
“This is partly my fault. I let your father get your hopes up. At 6 it was cute; at 16 it was inspiring. At 28 it’s officially embarrassing. I just want you to stop before it gets heartbreaking.”
With parents like these, who needs enemies? But predictably Becky won’t take no for an answer and muscles her way into the executive producer position for Day Break, America’s last-placed national morning show. There she confronts the battling egos of former beauty queen Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) and aging news anchor Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford). And once again I was set for a trip down memory lane…
It is perfectly understandable why television presenters develop the giant egos they tend to possess. Every camera they step in front of is a microscope through which the public evaluates their every inflection. If they don’t develop a hardened conviction of their own ability they could hardly be expected to survive the examination. But our egos are beasts that never lack for an appetite. For Colleen, the former Miss Arizona, and Mike, who has “won every news award on the planet,” self-esteem has degenerated into bloated superiority. Harrison Ford provides an excellent portrayal of an embittered newsman who no longer sees is co-workers:
Hope 103.2 is proudly supported by
“I put a cool wash cloth on Mother Theresa’s forehead during a cholera epidemic. It’s my integrity, my talent, my reputation. Mine!”
Interestingly Becky also brings a different sort of arrogance to the script, one that Christians might be more prone to. She is prepared to sacrifice everything for the team – her dignity, her health, her chance at a fulfilling relationship – and everyone knows it. She has a dream for Day Break and she will take her team there come hell or high water. Her martyrdom is so potent it allows her to ride roughshod over Pomeroy’s desire to preserve the quality of the news.
“People have been debating news vs. entertainment for years and guess what? Your side lost!”
Personal and intellectual arrogance undermines any chance for Becky’s news team to succeed. It’s a problem that Christians have been confronting in the small-team context of church since Jesus first began to collect fishermen. So, we know the problem – what’s the cure? Sacrifice, tempered with humility. Becky is actually not the best role model. The counter to her conviction, and that of her hosts, is the boyfriend she so nearly pushes away. He understands her needs and responsibilities and helps her to fulfill them. He is not worried about his ‘standing’ in the relationship and his goal is to make her happy. To use Jesus’ words, he is someone who has come to serve rather than be served.
Morning Glory is a safe choice these holidays for adult viewers looking for entertainment that is neither over-sexed nor under-thought. It may also challenge a modern conviction that the only truth is being true to yourself.