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Ten Word or Less Review: Harrison Ford strikes back!

All great actors deserve the great swan song role.  Henry Fonda had On Golden Pond.  John Wayne had The Shootist.  Orsen Welles had Tramsformers: The Movie.  We all hoped Harrison Ford would take the opportunity to play Indiana Jones one last time and run with it.  And he did.  Right into a wall.  While the book on Ford’s career remains cautiously open for a bit longer, it seems as if his great finale may be as part of paint-by-numbers, psuedo-romantic comedy.  Morning Glory doesn’t reinvent anything, but it provides Ford with a character which embodies the perceptions of the actor head on, that of a cantankerous has been, too bored and worn out on his profession, forced to show one last time that he should never be counted down or out.

Getting top billing here is actually Rachel McAdams, the gorgeous almost starlet who seems too smart to become part of the Hollywood machinery.  Almost a headliner after the success of The Notebook, McAdams instead drew back and let stardom pass by.  She’s entered the game again and Morning Glory was suppsoed to herald her return, instead it withered on the vine and died an ugly box office death.  McAdams has the standard but well played partof plucky, can-do career gal, determined to overcome obstacles and achieve career and personal success.  She should be wise to avoid parts like this in the future though.  Kathrine Heigl does this all the time and now most people want her poisoned.  McAdam’s is a small time TV producer charged with revitalizing a dying network morning show.  In a moment of genius/stupidity, she brings on Ford’s acidic and unwieldingly cranky anchorman, an old fashioned bastard who thinks news should be nothing but meaningful and hardhitting, at complete odds with the format of morning talk pablum.  The two enter a battle of wills which feels more meaningful than it has any right to, largely impart to McAdams winning screen presence and Ford’s convincing nasty streak.  Instead of a movie which builds up to the well worn romantic climax, it aims for a professional one.  One where two people who work together achieve mutual respect for each other, and the all that love crap takes a back seat.

People have been bitching about Harrison Ford for years now.  He’s old.  He doesn’t care.  He rarely works and has nothing to prove, openly showing contempt for acting on occasion.  All possibly true but with his part in Morning Glory Ford stares squarely into the eyes of his critics and says ‘Shove it.  I’m Harrison Ford dammit.  Now get off my plane.’  His aging news anchor is an extension of himself, an old timer with the need to prove nothing to no one and simply will not cater to the gods of lower standards and expecations.  Maybe it makes him a prick but he’s a prick with ethics, no matter how buried they are under arrogance.  Ford shines so brightly with his simmering , aging rancor that he winds up putting the entire movie into his pocket and walks away with it.  Morning Glory is in most ways as routine as they come, but Ford elevates it to such a degree that anyone who has ever held an favorable opinion about the man should consider it a must see.  When history looks back on him after he’s gone, looking at his body of work and finding the great unsung pieces, Morning Glory will come up in conversation and be noticed.

Aside from Ford there isn’t a great deal to dwell on.  McAdams holds her own against the aging titan in a part which she elevates from the routine.  Her beauty is still matched by few and her lack of larger success in mainstream features remains odd.  But all the same we’ve seen this role more than enough times.  Diane Keaton is here in a part which should’ve squared off with Ford a bit more.  Her’s is an okay but under served role.  She and Ford deserve a climax which isn’t readily supplied, only hinted at.  Lots of other recognizable heads in the cast, all being amiable and pleaseant to watch.

Amputate Ford from Morning Glory and we aren’t having much of a conversation.  Without him it’s just another programmer for the double X chromosome crowd.  But alas, he is here and we are talking.  Thanks to his self-deprecating and confessional performance, Glory is elevated notches above where it deserves to be.  It achieves a consistant streak of minor achievements which add up to a winning experience.  Those who choose to ignore it in theaters would be wise to give it, and Ford, a look.  Afterwards you may not be so quick to dismiss that which you feel is over and done with.

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