Directed by Roger Michell
Starring Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton, Harrison Ford, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Ty Burrell, Matt Malloy, John Pankow
Written by Aline Brosh McKenna
When I first heard that Harrison Ford was going to be starring opposite Rachel McAdams in a romantic comedy, I just took it for granted that it meant they were going to end up together. It would not have surprised me, but, it certainly did not make me want to watch the movie any more than, say, Six Days and Seven Nights. Okay, maybe a little more, as I have a disdain for the severe acting talents of Anne Heche. Still, it would have put this movie on the list of those to just let my wife watch. If she thought it worth watching again, I would give it a try…
Alas, I was wrong. Word got out that McAdams kept her hands off of the old dude and spent her extra time with Patrick Wilson, who was much more her age. Ford, meanwhile, had the still beautiful Diane Keaton to contend with. The basic premise of the story was not romance in particular, however.
The story deals with a young morning show director (McAdams as Becky Fuller) who is fired from her moderately successful job and ends up at one that is in the absolute dregs. By hook and by crook, she ends up with a Dan Rather-esque former anchor who has been pushed out of the chair of honor and is living off of his giant contract. Of course Ford’s Mike Pomeroy, gruffly proud as a man whose principles have been passed by his age, is beyond reluctant to change anything to match the spirit and feeling of a morning news show. Fuller asks Pomeroy to think of the show as a newspaper, with entertainment, sports, weather, and hard news, too. He doesn’t bite.
Making the best of it is Colleen Peck (a wonderful performance by the slightly underused Keaton). She’s been on the show for years, going with the flow, if not necessarily jumping for the loose balls. Needless to say, there will be challenges and threats to be shut down. Needless to say, these challenges are overcome. The good news is, this is the only cliché ridden hard by the script. Some pleasant changes, include the following:
- The romance between McAdams and Wilson’s fellow producer Adam is never a point of focus in the film. This is handled with a little hesitation at first, but then, as both persons realize the other is a decent human being, the story drifts from them like a gentle breeze.
- The false crisis does not revolve around a negative monkey wrench in the relationships. It is, rather, a representation of Becky’s success that she is given the opportunity to move up.
- The wacky hi-jinks are kept to a minimum, and are, in fact, planned as improvements to the Daybreak morning show. Matt Malloy’s weatherman is wonderful as a weather man whose definition of wacky is turned on its head as he gamely plays along.
- Keaton’s Peck is a secret weapon in this movie. She personally pulled a Dwayne Wade by sacrificing a little bit of her game and her prestige to make the movie better. The movie would not have worked as effectively were it not for her fully investing in this part-time role.
- Rachel McAdams has the chops. This film exercises only part of her potential, but she brings a manic energy that rings true to her role. It’s a little hard to imagine her as someone who makes her living not in front of the camera. That could be said about any lead actress, I suppose.
- The banter between Pomeroy and Peck is as funny as anything I have seen since the voice over people of Airplane.
- Great to see Jeff Goldblum again. Really. I mean that.
Roger Michell has had a quiet career since directing the classic Notting Hill (1999). He handles the material deftly and assuredly. There is a feeling that there were perhaps one too many scenes left on the cutting room floor, but even so, this is the best romantic comedy I have seen in years.
(**** out of *****)