Clever, Not Cutesy

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Last week, producers at CBS's perennial bottom feeder, The Early Show, decided to shake things up with a clean sweep. Out went veteran anchor Harry Smith, co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez, and weatherman Dave Price. In came an astounding new idea to boost the ratings: The team of benchwarmers who used to host the Saturday version of The Early Show are now moving up to the majors. Say what?

As the New York Times pointed out in its article about this little revolution, CBS News might as well give it up. Humans are creatures of habit, and never more so than in the morning. Hit the snooze, stretch, scratch, shower, brew, and flip on the TV to hear the banter of familiar voices while getting ready for work. GMA, Today, and Fox & Friends already have a lock on the morning shows, and nothing short of something completely different from the competition — infomercials, game shows, or reruns of Mary Tyler Moore — will bring them back to CBS. Say . . .Mary Tyler Moore. Now there's an interesting idea!

Fittingly, a film about the inner workings of a morning news show hosted by geriatric veterans Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) and Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), opened the same week in which the anchors of The Early Show were given the boot. Morning Glory presents the story of Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams), the young executive producer of a morning show for the thinly disguised "IBS" network, calledDaybreak. Daybreak's ratings are so low that it is about to be cancelled. Becky has six weeks to turn the ratings around.

Despite being young, perky, prone to babble, and endearingly klutzy, Becky is totally focused on her job and has an inborn knack for successfully producing a morning news show, with its mix of entertainment and hard news. She directs the weatherman to engage in daredevil stunts and encourages the anchorwoman to let loose as well. Her only holdout is Pomeroy, a curmudgeonly Dan Rather-type who has been demoted to the morning hours against his will. He refuses to banter.

Becky's biggest problem is not the show, however. It's the lack of balance in her life. Like many newspeople, or any young professionals for that matter, she can't let go of her BlackBerry or her TV remote. Her nose is always in the air, sniffing for a story. Even when she gains the romantic interest of Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson), a hunky producer from another show on the network, the relationship is more physical than social or emotional. In a gender role reversal that seems to be growing in popularity (watch for my reviews of Love and Other Drugs and No Strings Attached later this month), it is the modern woman who wants a "Slam, bam, thank you, man" relationship. It makes me sad just to watch.

Morning Glory is cleverly written without being cutesy, and reflective without being preachy. It offers several honest moments to ponder the importance of balancing work, play, and friendship, and redefines family in an uplifting way. A definite yes for a date night movie.

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