Another film from Hollywood without even a winking understanding of the double entendre in its title, and for the most part it’s downhill from there. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t have funny moments or that there’s no enjoyment to be had from it at all, but you have to know going in that this is pure formula – it’s an attempt to cross Princess Diaries with Devil Wears Prada and all other rom-com/feel-good movies in an attempt to boost lead Rachel McAdams’ profile. Let me say right now that’s not a good thing – she’s skull-crushingly awful. It’s hard to judge who she’s trying to channel the worst – Reese Witherspoon? Anne Hathaway? It’s so hard to tell and it’s so knowing from the outset it’s impossible to warm to her. It’s far from the only lax shortcut director Roger Michell takes, and it’s a shame because somewhere buried in screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna’s script is a good idea.
McAdams is a cutesy live TV producer from nowheres-ville who unexpectedly gets a shot at the big time in New York city. Tasked with somehow rejuvenating the daytime show from hell, she fires the existing male presenter and replaces him with all-time-great journalist Harrison Ford, whose TV career has fallen on hard times. The predictable clashes occur – Ford with McAdams, Ford with co-presenter Diane Keaton, until inevitably his hard heart softens because McAdams wants what’s best for him and, well, everyone really. Smarmy? You bet, but the script does touch on a valuable argument about high vs low culture in American media. Ford’s rebellion is fuelled by his anger at no longer being required for old fashioned high class TV journalism, while McAdams is forced to acknowledge (and teach him) that their continued employment in today’s market depends entirely on what sells. It’s a curious parallel with Ford’s own career, and you can’t help but be left wondering what he feels he has to do to rehabilitate his former high-flying career.
Ultimately the hard bitten old pro manages to trick McAdams into broadcasting a major scoop, and at the last minute he in turn is convinced to compromise and cook live on telly, out of respect for his oh-so-lovable boss. It’s entirely predictable (as are all of her annoying ups and downs) but the thoroughly formulaic presentation of the first half is replaced but a punchier, funnier second half, which at least takes a small handful of risks, and which allow the conclusion not to be entirely painful. It’s a shame that more isn’t made of the ascerbic relationship between Ford and Keaton (who gets far too little screen time), indeed that Ford’s character isn’t better written. The opportunities for him to channel a Sue (‘Glee’) Sylvester-type attitude were there in abundance but sadly never taken, leaving the real world hard bitten old pro coming across well, but nowhere near as well as he could have.
It’s a film with little charm and countless wasted opportunities but it’s not without its moments. I can’t really recommend it for the cinema, but it’ll be great to pass the time on planes…