“Have you ever noticed people always say, ‘Lighten up,’ just before they stick their fist up your ass?” rasps Harrison Ford (not Andy Rooney), employing an Eastwoodian growl to play America’s oldest and bitchiest TV anchorman in Morning Glory, a purported featherweight comedy that doesn’t even have the delicacy to use latex gloves and lube. Rachel McAdams, seen last year in State of Play as a perky, workaholic news blogger, is the perky, workaholic executive producer of a struggling network’s last-place morning show; firing a smarmy foot-fetishizing host on her first day, she replaces him by coercing her idol, Ford’s exiled Pulitzer-winning star journalist, to entertain dog whisperers and cosmeticians with the program’s incumbent interviewer, an equally ornery ex-beauty queen (Diane Keaton, unpersuasively playing against type but not completely extinguishing her loopy charm).
A near-perfect corollary to the vacant time-filling of sunrise happy-talk TV, Aline Brosh McKenna’s script substitutes witless insults for the adult badinage of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Broadcast News, while director Roger Michell orchestrates the lifeless components with a total lack of invention: shards of Joss Stone on the soundtrack, generic midtown Manhattan locations, a beyond-bland office romance for McAdams with an understanding fellow producer (Patrick Wilson). And has anyone ever noticed that Ford can’t play pure comedy? His dour visage and grouchy monosyllables here are deadly: Under his breath, on the set to Keaton’s baiting, he says, “Suck it.” At least Keaton, fleetingly vamping with 50 Cent or kissing a frog, seems like a plausibly fun breakfast anchor, but the most threadbare of networks would never put a pair with the stars’ combined mileage and lack of facelifts before the cameras. Relentlessly unpleasant, equipped with two sentimentally phony climaxes, and lacking a single hearty laugh, Morning Glory trashes its cast and begs for a click of the remote.