It’s imperative Morning Glory carries a likeable, cute, spunky lead, because she’s playing off one miserable old man. Rachel McAdams fits the role of overworking, enthusiastic morning show producer to a tee, and Harrison Ford settles in as the gravely voiced, experienced, egotistical co-anchor.
They drive this breezy narrative, morning shows a unique platform for a feature film to spring from. This is a mixture of comedy and drama, the genre swap not always handled with the best of care, but there’s typically something ridiculous around the corner to spruce it up. The downward effect is minimal.
Writer Aline Brosh McKenna crafts a fun script, filling the network studio with meager but enjoyable side characters, McAdams key in pulling the entire behind-the-scenes crew together. Their small roles create a family-like atmosphere that becomes a centerpiece to the story later. They have to work in tandem, the ailing “Daybreak” slowly falling into a pit of ratings despair, their jobs on a teetering line that can’t seem to stay above the breaking point.
Cue the intro to Ford’s character, a great news anchor who is nothing but hard news, refusing to dumb down the product for any mass audience. McAdams sells the show on his name alone, not really accounting for his hard-edged personality, or how he’ll work with co-host Diane Keaton. At the very least, Morning Glory shows that Keaton may have missed her calling; you couldn’t ask for a more natural representation of these network hallmarks.
The script apes familiar concepts, McAdams forced to one-up the competitors with increasingly bizarre content in a desperate bid for ratings superiority. She finds romance too, although the draw of the job puts a strain on anything else she tries to do. Morning Glory is light on surprises, but high on its casting. That’s enough to carry into its final walk into the sunrise, which no, wins no points for originality either.
Paramount’s AVC encode for Morning Glory seems fine, and that’s purely based on the aggressively high bitrate afforded to it. It rarely dips below 30 Mbps. However, it goes to show that the encode is not the only thing to contend with, the film seemingly glazed with a layer of filtering and a hint of sharpening.
There’s evidence all over the place, from the rampant aliasing on countless fine lines to the light layer of edge enhancement scattered about. It’s one thing for the insert show clips to suffer from artifacts since they’re trying to represent something; it’s another for Jeff Goldblum to carry a halo at 1:29:20. High contrast edges always suffer here, and complex clothing such as distinctive suit patterns are sure to flicker. One of the final scenes at 1:37:00 is definitely smoothed over digitally, but this is certainly the intent given the nature of the sequence.
The natural grain structure that exists in most of the frames is limited and clear, the beefy encode hardly struggling to represent it properly. That’s great. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do much to keep the detail, that light layer of tampering enough to wipe a significant portion of the stock’s best qualities clean in this digital transition. A few scenes take place in a thicket, so muddy and undefined it’s staggering to think this is being played at the proper resolution (it is). If you’ve fallen into the trap and were thinking this was shot digitally, no one will blame you.
Colors are nicely saturated, the comedy format almost always generating some pleasing hues. Flesh tones are natural without any tinkering, and primaries are wonderfully bold. From the rich blues of the control room to the heavily orange-oriented show set, each is presented with care. Black levels are suitable, yet never reaching to their deepest depth. A few minor shots almost seem to have given up, such as when McAdam’s visits Ford’s home.
A nicely constructed score highlights this one, the DTS-HD effort on the disc keeping it appropriately within the mix. It encapsulates the sound field effectively, as does the city-level ambiance. Those sequences shot on street level in New York truly come alive, McAdam’s first introduction out of the subway full of rich, loud city noise.
Dialogue oddly struggles, and with some regularity. It takes on an airy quality, as if it were recorded incorrectly or ADR sessions were missed. Otherwise its fine, crisp and clear while maintaining a center focus. There’s no real subwoofer use to speak of short of a concert a 1:15:35, and revealing with who would be a minor cameo spoiler. Regardless, the sub has to work a short shift here, even if the lyrics are basically lost to everything else.
A commentary is delivered by director Roger Michell and writer Aline Brosh McKenna. A sole deleted scene is listed as such, although it’s more of an extended scene since part of it does appear in the finished product.