“The secret to a good frittata is…”


There are a few movies which I routinely recommend and that afterward always receive positive feedback. Flash Gordon (1980) and Morning Glory (2010) receive by far the most responses along the lines of “I had no idea it would be this good!”

I’ll sound like a broken record by the end of this series, but this 2010 was another year where I didn’t keep up on new movies and everything slipped through the cracks. I’m fairly certain that the only movie I saw in the calendar year was Inception, out at the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills. My memories of 2010 were mostly just babe-in-the-woods sensory overload. Pittsburgh isn’t an easy city to navigate and we had moved to a neighborhood that felt especially isolated from the rest of the city. And I didn’t have a job when I moved here and my relationship was on its last legs. So my 2010 memories are just streaks of emotion and location:

A new moving truck and a new city.
The tranquility of Frick Park.
Getting conned out of my last twenty dollars.
Nebby neighbors.
Living on a hill again after half a decade in the flatlands of central Ohio, and the corresponding terror of icy roads.
Applying to work at fuckin Kennywood.
Missing my Ohio friends fiercely.
Watching WVU basketball and everyone around me glaring because they were Pitt or Penn State fans.
Breaking up but still living there for a while because I had nowhere to go and no money.
Watching all of Battlestar Galactica in five days.

And then backdooring my way into the next chapter of my life when a temp service at Carnegie Mellon turned into a job that I’d hold for over ten years.
Renting a room from an eccentric professor.
Realizing that Pittsburgh could be fun if one doesn’t live in a tiny neighborhood cut off from the rest of the city by a giant park and an interstate.
Pizza from Mineo’s and Aiello’s (I preferred Aiello’s because part of me thought that they were related to Danny Aiello).
The White Whale, which was later functionally totaled at its annual state inspection.
Unlearning all of the coping mechanisms that I needed for the previous decade.


So I missed Morning Glory the first time around; I saw it for the first time around 2015, I believe. It is a shame, because it would have been a balm during the stressful days of 2010.

Rachel McAdams plays the main character, producer Becky Fuller. She is fired from a local New Jersey morning show in a memorable sequence, wherein she and her coworkers are expecting her to get a promotion—to the point everyone has t-shirts printed to celebrate the occasion—but instead she is laid off and an even younger worker brought in to replace her. The job-application montage that follows is my least favorite part of the movie, and feels honestly out of place. The movie has this James L. Brooks (Broadcast News) vibe, all jargon and quippy workaholics, except for these montages where some crummy pop band sings a ballad while Rachel McAdams steps into different frames and looks determined but sad. It feels like someone cut and pasted sections from Gray’s Anatomy into what is otherwise a great movie.

Anyway, she finds a job as a producer of a failed national network morning show (Daybreak) and is given a very short amount of time to increase ratings. Even the crew and on-air talent expect her to fail (played by greats like Diane Keaton and John Pankow and Matt Malloy). Jeff Goldblum, in that phase of his career where he mostly looked grumpy rather than charming or sleazy, hires her and certainly seems to expect her to fail too. Here, his network exec explicitly wants results with all of the risk and stress placed solely on the producer. Becky’s constant check-ins and schemes are met with annoyance but, once she has started to show her ingenuity, this is replaced with begrudged grins.

Becky’s ingenuity brings us into the best part of the film, wherein she finds a loophole in the contract of a legendary but prickly newscaster and strongarms him into working for her morning show. Enter Harrison Ford.

Harrison Ford has been phoning it in for two decades, since his memorable turn in What Lies Beneath (2000). Well, phoning it in with two exceptions. He always shines when playing Indiana Jones (even around Crystal Skulls (2008)), and he is incredible in Morning Glory. I’m using the word incredible here. This is a top-10 Ford movie. His character Mike Pomeroy is captivating, a cocktail of Christopher Plummer’s Mike Wallace (via The Insider (1999)) mixed with Ford’s real-life prickly detachment. Pomeroy is a Pulitzer-winning news journalist with decades of experience, but beefed with the network over something or other, and now they’re paying out his contract while he spends time hunting and sitting around.

Becky’s clever maneuvering gets him onto her morning show despite his complete disinterest and visible loathing of the idea, and we the audience just sit back and grin the minute that this premise is set. Before we got to Mike, there was a lot (a lot lot) of table-setting and character development showing that Becky is a workaholic, a perfectionist, that she genuinely loves working in TV news… and that no one believes in her. So the charm of Morning Glory is that the romantic comedy beats are not between Becky and Adam (Patrick Wilson)—although they have plenty of cute moments and chemistry—but between Becky and the rest of the world. The setbacks in her life come from her commitment to jobs where the producers and on-air talent like Diane Keaton’s Colleen Peck don’t realize her worth. So Morning Glory is really more akin to Rocky than to a Nancy Meyers film. This is an underdog story with an irrepressible smile.

The friction between Mike and Colleen is another wonderful aspect of the story. She is a former beauty queen with decades of frustration that her male colleagues got preferential treatment, and now she has to co-anchor this morning show with a guy who refuses to do any segment whatsoever. He’s the highest-paid member of the show and he just sits and scowls. And conversely, Mike sees Colleen as someone who does puff pieces on the chihuahuas of celebrities, not real news. He sees the whole endeavor as beneath him.

Becky eventually melts the frosty hearts of everyone in the movie, and her friendship with Mike Pomeroy works because she and Harrison Ford put in brilliant performances and the script gives them space to perform. Director Roger Michell had shown an aptitude for letting his actors shine with previous films like Venus (2006) and Notting Hill (1999)*,  and I think it was necessary here. Any more montages set to Colin Hay or Joss Stone would have sunk the movie, which would have been tragic when one has an absurd cast and a talky script like this.


Other 2010 candidates: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Inception; Burke and Hare; Robin Hood; True Grit; The Illusionist; Tron Legacy; MacGruber; OSS 117: Lost in Rio

*I was very sad to see that he had passed away just two weeks ago, in September 2021.

I turn 40 in December. To commemorate the milestone, I’m writing 40 short biographical essays pertaining to a movie per year of my life.