Does Harrison Ford Have Anything Left?

At least one surprise: he's hilarious in 'Morning Glory'

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Except another turn as a creaky, whip-wielding Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford has few projects with blockbuster aspirations in the near future. And behind him? Well, the 00s haven't been kind to the face of three iconic franchises. The painful decline began with 2002's submarine flick K-19 the Widowmaker (remember the Russian accent?) and then arguably hit a low point when he played the gruff mentor to Josh Harnett in Hollywood Homicide. And while his 2007 "comeback" action film, Firewall, won over a few of his devoted fans, the film failed to excite critics and floundered at the domestic box office.

Approaching age seventy, the venerable action star is returning with Diane Keaton and Rachel McAdams in the bubbly Broadcast News-lite Morning Glory. Playing a grumpy, irascible anchorman, Ford shakes off his cold streak and delivers—apparently—"his best and funniest" role in years. While the film has been getting an uneven critical response, Ford parlays his cantankerous onscreen persona into a surprising win. At this point, he'll take what he can get.

  • He's Very Affecting In 'Glory' finds Roger Ebert at The Chicago Sun-Times, who gave the film a three and a half star review: "Ford is not a demonstrative actor. Sometimes he can barely rouse himself to growl. Here he's kind of inspired. When he's anchoring with Keaton, his double takes are flawless. When they get into a duel of who says 'bye' last, they do it with impeccable timing. Ford doesn't venture beyond his usual acting range, but within it he creates a character with a reluctantly human inside."
  • His Best Role in Years  Rolling Stone's Peter Travers, who delivered the "funniest role in years" soundbite, gushes about Ford's performance. "The iconic Han Solo and Indiana Jones shows real comic chops as Mike Pomeroy, the news diva who resents slumming in the fields of TV fluff....You can see that in Ford's eyes as he delivers the film's most memorable laughs, the kind that stick in your throat."
  • Slower, Angrier and Shrewdly Amusing  At Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman writes of the action star "some actors get mellower as they get older. Harrison Ford has gotten slower — a lot slower — and angrier, too. In his movies, he now ''converses'' in a voice that's halfway between a growl and a mumble. It's as though he were reading every line off a rusty TelePrompTer in his brain. At 68, however, Ford is still a magnetic hunk of gray-granite movie star, and in Morning Glory, he finds a way to trick up his deadly somber, shifting-quicksand delivery into a shrewd and amusing acting style."
  • The Screenplay Makes the Performance  Box Office magazine's Peter Hammond, penning one of the most favorable analysis of Morning Glory, notes: "Ford is hilarious and brooding, deeply wrinkled and deeply intimidating. He's got the best lines, courtesy of screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (of the repellent 27 Dresses and the much better The Devil Wears Prada)."

But, obviously, not everyone bought Ford's act. Here's the best takedown of his Morning Glory turn:

  • Give Me a Break the actor needs to "seriously lighten up" in the film, fumes The Miami Herald's Rene Rodriguez. "Someone apparently forgot to tell Harrison Ford he was starring in a comedy when he was cast in Morning Glory. As Mike Pomeroy, a legendary TV newsman and cantankerous crab who hates being told what to do, Ford doesn’t give the character any humor or shading of humanity. He plays him straight, like a misanthropic Dan Rather, so he barely gets any laughs (imagine what Jack Nicholson or Harvey Keitel would have done with this part).Ford was funnier in Extraordinary Measures than he is here, and that was a movie about terminally ill children."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.