What a great set-up for a romantic comedy: Harrison Ford is the hard-nosed, no-nonsense veteran TV newsman who has been demoted to co-host of a happy-talk morning show. Diane Keaton is the chirpy a.m. diva who is beginning to think she has wasted her life and talents making omelets with TV chefs, and who sees Ford's arrival as just one more confirmation of her creeping insignificance. They meet (or maybe they're embittered by a long-ago fling), they hate each other, they try to sabotage each other's careers and then, just before it's too late, they realize they always loved each other. He softens up, she chills out, and …
Oh, wait a minute. Yes, that would be a really good movie, but that's not the movie we get in Morning Glory. What we do get is the young and beautiful Rachel McAdams as an up-and-coming TV producer trying to balance her workaholic lifestyle with tending to a new boyfriend, played by the young and buff Patrick Wilson. And occupying the background, treated with little more deference than a rear-projection landscape, are Ford and Keaton, two of the screen’s true giants, bickering and gesticulating — while, not incidentally, still managing to steal every scene they're permitted to occupy.
I ought to be happy with the glass half-full, I suppose. I should just be grateful when a movie like Morning Glory allows a blissful glimpse of Ford and Keaton engaging in a monumental Battle of the Giants (or when a romantic comedy like last spring's Letters to Juliet briefly offers the glorious Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero sharing a tearful reunion).
Trouble is, it's clear that those who rule Hollywood still don't quite trust the veterans when it comes to carrying a movie on their own. And so, in order to relish some quality screen time with old friends who a decade or so ago would have commanded above-the-title status, we are obliged to first slog through a primary storyline involving characters who are much younger — and infinitely less interesting.
McAdams is a fine comedienne, by the way. It's easy to envision her achieving iconic status one day — although it would help if, like Keaton, she'd find herself a Woody Allen or a Warren Beatty to craft some roles that will uniquely fit her talents, rather than cookie-cutter ones like this. In that sense, Morning Glory is a bit frustrating all around. But it’s still wonderful to watch Ford and Keaton (and Jeff Goldblum, as a harried network executive, and even Patti D'Arbanville, effective in a small role as McAdams’s mother), seasoned grownups showing the youngsters how it's done — and perhaps preparing them for the day when they, too, may be relegated to little more than very pricey wallpaper.