Rachel McAdams is arguably one of the most versatile and underused talents of the last two decades. In 2004, she played two vastly different roles with Allie Hamilton in The Notebook and Regina George in Mean Girls, and from that alone it would have seemed that a Jennifer Lawrence-caliber trajectory was hers for the taking. Yet despite a respectable amount of large critical and commercial success in the years that followed, by the time the next decade rolled around, McAdams was stuck in a pattern of characters that shadowed her Notebook success—such as The Time Traveler’s Wife or The Vow. One of her other efforts during this period, possibly one of her greatest performances, has since gone mostly unacknowledged: the endearingly feisty and ambitious Becky Fuller in the 2010 rom-com Morning Glory, directed by genre veteran Roger Michell (Notting Hill).

Morning Glory is perhaps the last female career-driven star vehicle from what now looks like a bygone era of romantic comedies, those days one might browse the aisles of Blockbuster for the latest Sandra Bullock or Sarah Jessica Parker release. Ultimately, McAdams’ brand of wide-eyed girl-next-door was not well-aligned with the subgenre, considering she never quite took on another Mean Girls-type role. So when she suddenly appeared alongside the likes of Patrick Wilson, Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford in a rom-com written by the woman who brought you The Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses, it might’ve seemed refreshing if also a bit jarring for audiences, despite the fact that Morning Glory was far from a box office disappointment.

The film follows McAdams as Becky, a Type-A workaholic who has already dedicated too much of her career as a morning television producer to a local New Jersey talk show that lets her go the second someone more formally educated comes along. After a relentless search for something new, she lands an interview at IBS, a network perpetually in fourth place behind the big three, and becomes executive producer of the foundering morning talk show “Daybreak.” Even though it’s clear her mother and now network head Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum) have no faith in her, Becky is never above pleading her case to anyone who will listen. “‘Daybreak’ needs what I need. Someone to believe in them.” Unfortunately for her, the response from both industry professionals and her peers seems to be, “Well that’s embarrassing.” Against all odds, Barnes gives her the job, while banking on her to fail like the others before her.

Watching Morning Glory in 2021 means realizing that the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements would’ve had a field day with the “Daybreak” offices when Becky first arrives. Her first order of business is firing longtime co-anchor and notorious perv Paul McVee (Ty Burrell), now tasked with finding someone new to sit next to Colleen Peck (Keaton), a former beauty queen who seems to have risen to daytime talk fame in a path similar to that of Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Having both an impeccably low morale and budget, Becky concocts a plan to give famous IBS news anchor and infamous prick Mike Pomeroy (Ford) an offer he can’t refuse: co-anchor on “Daybreak.” Faced with having his contract terminated if he doesn’t accept, Pomeroy makes clear he’s only there for the money—he refuses to banter or cover any type of story that doesn’t meet his standards. The show declines to a point of near-cancellation until Becky stumbles on a formula that works: not only having zany weatherman Ernie (Matt Malloy) perform outrageous stunts on camera, but having Colleen and Mike insult each other in lieu of banter. Out of nowhere, “Daybreak” becomes a viral sensation on the cusp of the social media takeover, and without even realizing it, Becky has all her dreams come true.

Morning Glory succeeds in part because it’s an accurate portrayal of the reality faced by a generation of young people seeking stable employment. But it also resonates thanks to Becky, her character a testament to the passion of television and news: watching it, living it, producing it. She clashes so heavily with Pomeroy’s pig-headed personality because it’s a perpetual reminder that what we see on the screen is never true to life. The film also portrays the legions of talent and manpower behind the scenes who scarcely receive the recognition they deserve. Perhaps that’s why it’s so satisfying when Becky finally does break Pomeroy, and he confesses that she gave him back an integral part of his life. It would’ve been perfectly understandable if Becky had accepted the job offered to her at “The Today Show,” but sometimes we just need a sign that what we’ve always dreamed of achieving is already right in front of our faces. And as if there were no other reason to defend this as McAdams’ most underrated role, it’s impossible not to love a film that makes exceptional use of “Strip Me” by Natasha Bedingfield. “Sometimes all it takes is one voice.” Amen.

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