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Arts & Entertainment Presented by Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts

Cinema in Focus

Cinema in Focus: ‘Morning Glory’

The film delivers insights into human behavior with comedic skill

By Hal Conklin and Denny Wayman |

3 Stars — Insightful

It’s natural for a person to fight against aging and the losses it brings, but perhaps most difficult is losing the esteem 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. Hunter’s drive to achieve success in her job began when she was 8 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 not only of Pomeroy’s bitter losses but of Hunter’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, Hunter 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 on each other that Pomeroy and Hunter develop. Fighting to gain her dream — while Pomeroy is fighting not to lose his — Hunter’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 Hunter’s named Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson) and a hard-nosed network executive named Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum). Together with Keaton’s Peck, each adds a humorous facet to the story though their characters are clearly secondary to Pomeroy and Hunter.

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 Hunter to know he could still do the reporting that won him many awards. As he explains that he sacrificed everything, including his children and grandchildren for his career, he points out to Hunter 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.


» 1. Often in the beginning stages of building a career, we are also at the age to create lifelong relationships. How did you or how are you navigating these two sometimes colliding goals?

» 2. We aren’t given enough information to know why Bennett is so interested in Hunter , except that she is “different.” 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 Hunter’s mother (Patti D’Arbanville) exhibited didn’t stop Hunter from attempting her dream. Do you feel your mother or father helped you to have confidence in life or hurt you? Why?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com.

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