I have finally achieved one of my movie watching goals – to see a preview screening of a movie before the actual opening of said movie that wasn’t in a college chemistry auditorium. A friend of mine has a press pass and invited me as the plus-one. As it turns out, it’s not as difficult to see these screenings, as there was a line of people waiting outside of the theater. My friend explained that they advertise these events in newspapers and online and anyone can get in as long as there is room. Still, our way sounds cooler.
There are a couple of things I learned about these screenings. One is that a lot of people seem to know about these things because that line was really long. The other is that these people should be reminded of theater rules because broke all of them. There were people talking, looking at their phones and texting, and even a crying baby. The baby surprised me the most since the showing was on a Monday night. My friend was as annoyed as me and told me that some screenings remove people for these kinds of things. I would love to see this happen and would probably have applauded since the movie we saw did very little to keep my attention.
Rachel McAdams plays Becky, a young television producer of a local New Jersey morning show with dreams of producing “The Today Show” some day. The film opens with her producing her show and being summoned to her boss’s office, where she expects to be promoted. Instead, she is fired for cost cutting reasons and finds herself even further away from her dream. She also finds herself hearing her bitch of a mother telling her that it’s time to give up on her “embarrassing” dream. I instantly wished her mother would be crushed by her dining room hutch. It’s not like Becky was working at a Starbucks with those dreams; she was actually producing a morning show. She might as well have just told Becky that she should have had an abortion to save herself the embarrassment of having a child who is pursuing her dream. If she’s not going to be supportive, she might as well go all the way.
Anyway, Becky lands a job as the executive producer of “Daybreak,” a failing morning show on a major network. Her new boss, Jerry (Jeff Goldblum), thinks she is going to fail, but rolls the dice with Becky figuring that it can’t get worse. On her first day, she meets Lenny (John Pankow), her co-producer, who gives her a quick rundown of the people and the show. She quickly takes control of the situation by answering everyone’s questions and firing one of the two hosts, leaving Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) without a co-host. Through research and desperation, she hires celebrated newsman Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to fill the void and away we go. Or so we think.
The first twenty-five minutes or so have a good pace and set the film up very well. Unfortunately, it slows down tremendously for the next hour and you find yourself wondering if it’s time to refill your popcorn. This section is mostly filled with Pomeroy being as monotone as possible and saying no to any story that isn’t newsworthy, which isn’t much considering it’s a morning show, and Becky not doing anything to jumpstart their ratings. On the plus side, there is a fair amount of good humor sprinkled throughout, so it’s not completely boring. The movie finally picks up again when Becky snaps and has their weatherman strapped into a new roller coaster. Realizing Becky’s onto something, Colleen volunteers for the same kind of thing and the show finally starts to pick up its ratings. This is also where the movie finally delivers (somewhat) on its promise of Keaton and Ford trading barbs and insulting each other. This was probably the most disappointing aspect of the film for me in that they waited way too long to get this going. Judging from the previews, it seemed that this was going to be the major theme of the film, but they barely scratched the surface with what could have been done.
All-in-all, I thought it was a decent film, but there were a couple of things about the film that bothered me. One was that they underused Lenny and Jerry. While Goldblum and Pankow both played their parts perfectly, they seemed to be set up as mentor figures and never get the chance to mentor. The second is the inclusion of a boyfriend character, Adam (Patrick Wilson), who produces one of the network’s news programs. He seems to be the real mentor as he is the only one providing any valuable advice to Becky. What bothered me about him is that he seems like an extraneous character that was only included in the film so we could see McAdams in her underwear a couple times.
My wife and I argued about this at great length (I saw the movie with her a few days later – I promised I’d see it with her before I got the invite to the screening) and we still don’t agree. She points out that Adam helps her to learn to balance her life with her job, but Pomeroy does the same thing. He’s also there to provide the romantic angle to the film, adding more sympathy to what we feel for Becky. I don’t disagree with my wife on any of these points, but it just wasn’t how I interpreted this film. Based on the setup of her losing her job and being told by people that she will fail, the point of the movie (for me) was Becky succeeding and proving everyone wrong. The fact that she needed to balance her life just didn’t seem important to me in the context of this film. That being the case, Adam could have been completely removed from the film and his lines split between Jerry and Lenny to provide that guidance that both of them lacked.
Like I said, I thought it was a decent film with some good humor mixed in. The audience responded well to the film, but I noticed that the majority of the audience was past their 30’s. That’s not to say that younger people won’t enjoy the film, it just doesn’t seem geared toward them. Especially that baby who definitely did not ask to be there.
Rating: I’d say ask for three dollars back. My wife says I’m wrong.