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Putting the bloom back into 'Morning Glory'

Perky aggressive youth clashes with cynical elder burn-out in "Morning Glory," a behind-the-scenes look at those happy talk morning news/entertainment TV shows that can be -- and often are -- annoying.

Rachel McAdams, in many ways the heir apparent to Sandra Bullock, combines klutzy with savvy in a manner that should please both the audience and director Roger Michell, who successfully teamed Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts in "Notting Hill" (1999), a somewhat similar oddball comedy.

McAdams, most recently on screen as the femme fatale in "Sherlock Holmes," is nose-to-the-grindstone TV producer Becky Fuller in this one.  After being fired due to budget cuts in New Jersey, she persists until she lands the executive producer gig at a bottom-feeding network based in New York.

"Daybreak" doesn't just suffer in the ratings, though.  A mere shadow of NBC's "The Today Show" and similar blends of news and entertainment on ABC, Fox and CBS, "Daybreak" redefines the word "stale."

Becky, as youth often does, circles the tired situation like a panther about to pounce.  She may be young and overly enthusiastic, but she's also thoroughly prepared and savvy.

Via a couple of convenient set-up tricks in the screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna ("The Devil Wears Prada"), she manages to bring in retired (but still under contract) legendary network news anchor Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to team with wilting former beauty queen Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton).

Therein lies the major stumbling block I had with "Morning Glory" going in: veteran actors playing network morning TV anchors.  You may want to play the Meredith Vieira ("The Today Show") card as rebuttal.  And you would be correct to a certain extent.  As much as I admire Keaton's talent, though, I still think that role is a bit miscast.

Ford's character, the perpetually grumpy, sometimes drunk hard news hardliner, is much better explained.  As it turns out, that works fine.  In fact, the give-and-take between Ford and McAdams is the engine that drives this comedy.  They go at it vigorously, not unlike Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant digging in their heels in "His Girl Friday."

Many will think of "Morning Glory" more as an update of "Broadcast News," James L. Brooks' 1987 network TV news send up starring William Hurt, Albert Brooks and Holly Hunter.

Hunter was the TV producer pistol in that one.  While "Morning Glory" and "Broadcast News" exist in the same entertainment arena, the update relies on sex scenes instead of crying fits to deal with the heavy pressures of TV news angst.

McAdams is sharp in this one with Ford, who's terrific, Patrick Wilson (the love interest) and Jeff Goldblum, who's dynamite as McAdams' network TV boss.

And a quick note.  When you see the "Morning Glory" weatherman reporting live as he's riding a speeding roller coaster, don't for a second think that can't happen.

This reporter once reviewed a movie while barely clinging to life on a Sea World roller coaster in San Antonio.

So it can happen.  That's it from here.  Back to you, Sonny.


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