Weather Girl


One of these morning show hosts woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

One of these morning show hosts woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

(2009) Romantic Comedy (Secret Identity) Tricia O’Kelley, Patrick J. Adams, Ryan Devlin, Kaitlin Olson, Mark Harmon, Jane Lynch, Jon Cryer, Blair Underwood, Alex Kapp Horner, Marin Hinkle, Brandon Barrera, Brett Butler, David Giuntoli, Enrico Colantoni, Melinda McGraw, Timothy Dvorak, Omar Leyva, Danny Strong, Meredith Roberts Quill, Kit Pongetti. Directed by Blayne Weaver

There is some truth to the thought that in order sometimes to start over one must first hit rock bottom. The truth is that we are often too afraid to lose what we have to take a shot at what we might get, even if that is so much better than what we already have. Loss can be a great motivator.

Sylvia (O’Kelley) does the weather on a morning show in Seattle. Her boyfriend is Dale (Harmon), the handsome if empty-headed anchor. Sylvia is having a very bad day. She’s discovered that Dale is cheating on her with Jane (Hinkle), the likewise empty-headed co-anchor. Sylvia doesn’t handle this well. She has a meltdown on the air. Of course, she loses her job but the footage goes viral. Now she’s famous for all the wrong reasons.

Having to move out of Dale’s apartment with nowhere to go she ends up on the couch in her brother Walt’s (Devlin) smaller apartment. She also ends up meeting Byron (Adams), a hunky computer guy. At first she reacts to him with wariness but as she gets to know him she begins to feel much more comfortable with him than she ever was with Dale.

And that’s essentially it. If it sounds like a sitcom plot, well, it essentially is. The movie has the kind of mindless pleasantness that is inherent with the American network sitcom and many of the actors in it are sitcom vets. Like most sitcoms, the action is terribly contrived and easily predictable. The characters all come from the Sitcom Writers Handbook and while Sylvia is so whiny and unpleasant that you wish that she’d get hit by a meteor through the first half of the movie, she does improve to be nearly likable by the end and I must say that I admit that grudgingly.

O’Kelley, Adams and Devlin all make for nice eye candy depending on your own particular persuasion and Harmon, who tends to be cast in heroic roles, seems to enjoy the change of pace as the shallow douche of an ex and milks it for all its worth.

This is mildly entertaining stuff but in all fairness it isn’t anything different than you can’t already get on broadcast TV for nothing. I can’t in all fairness recommend this unless you’re obsessed with sitcoms and want to spend an hour and a half watching one.

WHY RENT THIS: O’Kelley, Adams and Devlin make an attractive trio. Harmon does well as the smarmy TV host.
WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: Too contrived and predictable. O’Kelley’s character spends the first half of the movie whining and unlikable. Too many cliche characters.
FAMILY VALUES: There’s enough foul language to merit the film an R rating.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Weaver is the voice of Peter Pan in Disney movies, television and in Disney theme parks around the world.
NOTABLE HOME VIDEO EXTRAS: None listed.
BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE: $22,779 on an unreported production budget.
SITES TO SEE: Netflix DVD, Amazon (DVD), iTunes (rent/buy), Amazon (rent/buy)
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Begin Again
FINAL RATING: 4/10
NEXT: Tell No One

Advertisements

Morning Glory


Morning Glory

Diane Keaton is thrilled she still knows which one of them is Indiana Jones.

(2010) Comedy (Paramount) Harrison Ford, Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Patti D’Arbanville, Ty Burell, John Pankow, J. Elaine Marcos, Matt Malloy, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Reed Birney, Linda Powell, Vanessa Aspillaga. Directed by Roger Michel

Anyone who has to get up in the morning to go to work has at one time or another watched at least a snippet of a TV morning show, like “Good Morning America” or the granddaddy of them all, the “Today Show.” Making this kind of shows work takes a special kind of animal.

Whereas some women dream of finding Mr. Right or of having children, Becky Fuller (McAdams) dreams of producing the “Today Show.” She’s well on her way to getting there too, as a talented and highly-regarded producer on a local morning show in New Jersey. It’s no surprise that rumors are swirling that she’s about to be promoted to executive producer.

Instead, she’s let go in a cost-cutting move. Devastated only for a moment, the terminally chipper and perky Becky rolls up her sleeves and gets to work finding herself a new job on a different show. She finally finds one – on the lowest rated morning show on the lowest rated network – “Daybreak” on IBS.

The show is in the dumper for a number of reasons; no imagination, no good ideas, no energy, no life. Becky is bound and determined to turn the show around, going so far as to fire the smarmy lothario of a co-anchor (Burell) on her first day. Colleen Peck (Keaton), the ex-beauty queen co-host is clearly skeptical of Becky’s abilities to get anything done, although she approves of her ouster of her former partner, but the situation remains – morning show co-hosts don’t just go on trees.

Then Becky gets the bright idea of hiring Mike Pomeroy (Ford), a legendary news anchor who makes Dan Rather look like Perez Hilton. Dour and described by his producer Adam Bennett (Wilson) as the “third-worst person in the world,” Pomeroy has no intention of taking on a position that he views as contributing to the demise of proper news reporting – until it becomes clear that if he doesn’t, he’ll forfeit his lucrative salary.

The addition of Pomeroy actually makes things worse initially. He has no intention of doing the job they want him to do, and he has right of first refusal to any story assigned to him. He comes off as dour, curmudgeonly and humorless which is not exactly what people are looking for in a morning show. The ratings are declining and Becky’s boss (Goldblum) soon tells her that if things don’t turn around immediately, the show is gone.

Her only respite is her romantic relationship with Adam that has blossomed since she arrived at IBS but even that is in jeopardy as she feels that she has to constantly apologize for doing her job which is far from a 9 to 5 affair. Can she rescue a show that is sinking in spite of her best efforts?

I think we all know the answer to that. This is a bit of unrepentant fluff that isn’t out to reinvent the wheel, and that’s okay. Director Michel, whose Notting Hill remains one of the better romantic comedies of the past decade, knows how to get the best out of his actors and so he does here.

McAdams has oodles of potential but hasn’t gotten the role that will put her over the top just yet, and she’s still waiting. She has a terrific smile, awesome personality and great screen presence. She carries this movie as surely as a Julia Roberts or Amy Adams would; she’s moving into that elite set of company.

As he’s gotten older, Ford has made a career out of playing grumpy men. Here he takes it to a new level, making Mike Pomeroy an absolute prick but one that has enough at his core that we can’t dismiss him summarily as simply a jerk. That complexity keeps the audience from being turned off by him as we might ordinarily.

Keaton is one of the finest comedic actresses of all time. This won’t go down as among her finest work but it is solid nonetheless. Colleen is prickly enough to have an edge but she’s a trooper for her show and as the one out on the firing line of a show that is perennially in last, it is easy to see that the stress has taken its toll.

This isn’t a movie that has a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, but consistently evokes grins and even a few guffaws. It’s the charm of McAdams and of the ensemble in general that keeps this from becoming too much like a stage farce which at times it feels like it’s about to degenerate into. Again, there’s nothing extraordinary or new here but if you are looking to feel better about life in general, this is the perfect tonic for the troops.

REASONS TO GO: The leads are all pros and tackle their parts nicely. Not really laugh out loud funny but charming enough to keep the audience invested.

REASONS TO STAY: A little bit rote in places, and sometimes has the feel of a stage play farce.

FAMILY VALUES: There’s a bit of sexuality and some crude language here and there but otherwise suitable for teens and older.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The movie was co-produced by veteran television producer J.J. Abrams (“Lost,” “Alias”).

HOME OR THEATER: There is nothing here that screams “big screen;” you’re probably not going to miss anything by seeing it at home.

FINAL RATING: 6/10

TOMORROW: The Great Buck Howard

The Ugly Truth


The Ugly Truth

Katherine Heigl listens intently while Gerard Butler tells her the ugly truth.

(Columbia) Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, Eric Winter, John Michael Higgins, Nick Searcy, Cheryl Hines, Kevin Connolly, Bree Turner, Jesse D. Goins, Noah Matthews, John Sloman, Nathan Corddry, Bonnie Sommerville, Yvette Nicole Brown. Directed by Robert Luketic

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that men and women evolved from the same species, so vast the difference in our way of approaching things. Finding a common ground is a necessity for relationships to work, a task that can seem impossible at times.

Abby Richter (Heigl) would seem to have a great life. She’s an award-winning producer for a Sacramento morning show, much admired by her superiors and industry peers. She has a knack for making quick decisions that are generally the right ones. The same is not true, unfortunately, for her romantic life. The attributes that allow her to take control over the chaos that is her job are the ones that frighten men off. Yes, she’s a little bit neurotic but as beautiful as she is, you’d think there’d be someone willing to look past that.

Mike Chadway (Butler) is a local access cable personality (do they still have those?) who espouses theories of relations between the sexes that would do a Neanderthal proud. He’s flabby, opinionated, scruffy and a bit of a slob. After yet another disastrous date Abby stumbles on his show and appalled at the opinions of the host, calls in. He gets her to admit that while she has specific ideas of who the perfect man is, she hasn’t met anyone who fills the criteria.

As good a producer as Abby is, the chaos is catching up to her. The ratings of her morning show are tanking, and the harried station manager (Searcy) has no choice but to make some drastic changes. He hires Chadway in a move that flat-out leaves the real world behind. The loutish Chadway spends most of his first broadcast on the show psychoanalyzing the marriage of the co-anchors (Higgins and Hines) and proclaims that the relationship is on the rocks because they aren’t having enough sex. Predictably, this revelation turns the couple into a couple of horny middle-aged teenagers. This infuriates Abby, even more so because the ratings are going through the roof.

Abby’s eye, however, has fallen on the handsome orthopedic surgeon (Winter) who has moved in next door. He seems at best ambivalent about her and in desperation she turns to the resident expert on male-female relations – Chadway – to help her win her man. His instructions prove to be just the thing she needed and the relationship takes off. So does the working relationship between Abby and Chadway.

Director Luketic previously helmed Legally Blonde (two of the three female co-writers on The Ugly Truth also worked on that film) but this isn’t anywhere close to the charm displayed by his previous film. The script is by-the-numbers rom-com chick flick formula, so much so that there is absolutely no suspense as to where this will end up whatsoever. I will say that it is well-made formula, however, with some genuinely funny moments.

There is some good chemistry between the leads. Heigl is making a living out of playing uptight career women – I’d love to see her in a role that is neither uptight nor professional. Butler has an easy charm that was much evident in P.S. I Love You and continues to be on display here as the caveman with a heart of gold. So much of the movie revolves around the leads in fact that there is little for the supporting cast to do. This is definitely Heigl and Butler’s movie to make or break.

The movie is just poorly written. One gets the feeling that it went through endless re-writes and revisions until it became obvious that certain things left over from one version were not fully coherent in the final one. For example, the television station where this all takes place is said early on to be an independent station, yet they are visited by network executives which to be fair, leads to one of the funniest scenes in the movie, involving a pair of vibrating panties and a remote in the hands of a kid.

That leads to another point. Despite having been written by three women, this is raunchy beyond reason. The F-word is dropped with such numbing regularity that you’d think the F-Bomb had become a carpet bomb. Not that I mind seeing Heigl in lingerie, mind you, but it seemed unnecessary and exploitative here.

There are a lot of reasons to like this movie, and a lot of reasons to despise it. There are certainly some very talented people on both sides of the camera that worked on it, and if Heigl and Butler had been given better material, this could have been one of the summer’s highlights. Instead, it’s just a passing entertainment made bearable by its attractive stars. It’s too bad that the writers, who had previously given us Legally Blonde couldn’t have lived up to those standards but I guess everyone is entitled to a bad choice and that’s the ugly truth.

WHY RENT THIS: Some generally funny moments and surprisingly solid chemistry between the attractive leads go a long way.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: Poorly written, full of clichés and generally uneven.

FAMILY VALUES: Far too raunchy and potty-mouthed for kids.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Although the film’s climax takes place at the Sacramento Hot-Air Balloon Festival, no such festival exists.

NOTABLE DVD FEATURES: None listed.

FINAL RATING: 6/10

TOMORROW: The Children of Huang Shi