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At the Movies

This week, John Keogh reviews Morning Glory and The Dilemma
Morning Glory
DIRECTED BY: Roger Michell
STARRING: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Jeff Goldblum
CERT: 12A

This is one of the more enjoyable films I’ve seen in the past 12 months, for a few simple reasons. One, it is a well-written comedy and that is a rare beast in our times. Two, it has no pretensions to be anything other than a lot of fun and three, a great cast is perfectly fine with that and so fun is had by all.
It would be nice if just a bit of that spirit could have been transplanted into some of the over-rated stuff that’s picking up awards this year. Certainly The Social Network would have been improved by a few hundred laughs.
In Morning Glory, the always excellent Rachel McAdams is Becky, a TV producer who’s just lost her job and isn’t having much luck finding a new home for her talents. But she’s the perky, go-getter type who doesn’t listen when life says no and soon she’s offered a gig by Jerry Barnes (Goldblum) at lowly network IBS. The station’s morning show, Daybreak, is bottom of the ratings and he gives her a shot at turning it around.
He’s not exactly hopeful but then, he doesn’t know who he’s hiring. Becky tears into the revamping job and on her first day she fires the show’s star host and sets about finding a new co-anchor for Colleen Peck (Keaton), a cranky pro who smiles like a trooper through the daily on-air car crashes.
She has just the man in mind – her hero, Mike Pomeroy (Ford), a veteran war correspondent who’s semi-retired but still contracted to the network. Pomeroy hates what network news has become but with a little charm and a lot of legal persuasion, Becky brings him back into the fold – where sparks fly between the hosts and their live sparring (along with the newly adventurous weatherman) will either make the show a hit, or be the final nail in its coffin.
With a lesser cast, Aline Brosh McKenna’s fine script might have been wasted and Morning Glory would be just another routine comedy, a forgettable vehicle perhaps for one of Hollywood’s mediocre young bimbos. There’s a lot of them out there getting the kind of attention Rachel McAdams has never had, without a fraction of her talent. It would be nice to think her bouncing, energetic, amusingly clumsy performance here would put that right but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
The film didn’t do great at the box office in the States and that’s a shame because there’s lots here to enjoy, McAdams mostly but Harrison Ford too, still playing the cranky old git but with a twinkle in his eye that’s been missing a while. Diane Keaton is also on top form as the host who will, literally, do anything for ratings.
The only dud note is the inclusion of Patrick Dempsey as the leading lady’s love interest. It’s unnecessary, does nothing for the story and feels like the kind of thing that wasn’t in the script until the producers insisted. Because, hey, every movie needs a bit of romance.
Well, no. Not really.

The Dilemma
DIRECTED BY: Ron Howard
STARRING: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Winona Ryder, Jennifer Connelly
CERT: 12A

SOMEONE once called Garth Brooks the anti-Hank, referring to Hank Williams, the godfather of real country music, as opposed to the perverse abomination produced by Brooks and the rest of the modern pretenders.
By a similar measure, it can be said that The Dilemma is an anti-comedy, the opposite of what an actual comedy is. In other words, the opposite of funny. Though it also happens to be anti-coherence, anti-intelligence and anti-Vince Vaughn’s career.
Vaughn has been on autopilot for a while now, wasting his undoubted talents on nonsense. But you could forgive him for coming on board for this one, considering the man calling the shots is Ron Howard. Howard has made the odd dud but surely a Howard movie would have a bit more class than, say, Couples Retreat?
And so it does but it’s still crap.
Vaughn plays Ronny Valentine, who runs an engine design business with his longtime buddy Nick (James). The boys are on the brink of signing a huge deal with an auto manufacturer and the future is looking very bright indeed. Then Ronny happens to see Nick’s wife Geneva (Ryder) with a handsome younger man (Channing Tatum), in a clinch which suggests that he is not her brother. Or if he is, there are certain family arrangements her husband is not aware of.
There’s the dilemma. Should he tell his best friend what’s going on behind his back, or keep quiet – at least until the deal is done?
Well, this is all so muddled and poorly handled and the characters so shallow and weak (who knows what’s up with Vahughn’s wife Jennifer Connelly?) that you probably won’t care one way or the other. The only real laughs to be had while you wait for the credits come from Tatum’s silly carry on. Who knew that knucklehead would ever be the funniest man in a movie?
I don’t know. The same seer, perhaps, who warned that one day Ron Howard and Vince Vaughn would team up to make a turkey. Nobody believed him…

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