Oh great, a white-washed EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING (2017). Don’t act like you weren’t thinking the same thing! Or… if you didn’t see EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING, check out the trailer for it and convince me you wouldn’t think the same thing.
Actually, despite my cynical first impression of the movie, in my defense, this is based on other source material, and glory hallelujah, it’s not based on a book. Ready for some history? No? Too bad, you’re going to be learned. This is actually an American remake of a Japanese film of the same name that came out in 2006, starring Japanese singer-songwriter, Yui, who plays a character that is partially based on herself, as both she and her character, Kaoru, are singers and play guitar. This movie must be pretty good because this has been adapted to the Japanese small screen with a different cast, turned into a manga, and even remade into a Vietnamese-Japanese drama (no idea if it’s a movie or a TV show) in 2015.
Fast forward to 2018 and we American swine have to take something Japanese and turn it into our own creation. Because, you know, THAT’S WORKED OUT SO WELL IN THE PAST!!!
UGH!!! Japan, on behalf of America, we’re sorry we suck. We hope we make up for it by buying all the stuff you invent for us.
The story here looks like it’s about a teen girl with a severe allergy to sunlight and only really goes out at night. She eventually meets the boy next door that she’s been crushing on since they were both kids, and only now meet and develop a romance and attempt to work around her condition.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Bella Thorne (BOO! A MADEA HALLOWEEN , ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS 4 , THE DUFF , and the upcoming I STILL SEE YOU ), Patrick Schwarzenegger (THE BENCHWARMERS ), and Rob Riggle (12 STRONG , LATIN LOVER , MIDDLE SCHOOL , HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 , and the upcoming NIGHT SCHOOL ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Scott Speer, known for STEP UP REVOLUTION (2012), and the upcoming I STILL SEE YOU. Penning the screenplay is Eric Kirsten, making his screenwriting debut. Congrats, sir. Making for a confusing grand total of three composers are Nate Walcott (THE FAULT IN OUR STARS , and the upcoming THE NEW MUTANTS ), and Ethan Dorr and Morgan Dorr, both making their feature-film debut. Congrats, you two. The cinematographer is Karsten Gopinath, known for STEP UP REVOLUTION and the upcoming UNCLE DREW (2018). Finally, the co-editors are Michelle Harrison (CAKE ) and Tia Nolan (HOW TO BE SINGLE , SPANGLISH , and the upcoming I FEEL PRETTY ).
I’m just going to come out and say it, I don’t think I’m going to like this movie. While I find it interesting to see Riggle in a more dramatic role, as opposed to his trademark comedy, which seems to be a theme he’s trying this year having been in 12 STRONG, I have reservations about Thorne. I do not like her, either as an actress, or a person. I’m indifferent toward Schwarzenegger, but yeah, this movie looks like it belongs on TV, not a theater screen. Here’s to hoping I don’t suffer.
This is my honest opinion of: MIDNIGHT SUN
Katie Price (Bella Thorne) is a teen girl who suffers from a rare condition called xeroderma pigmentosum, or XP, meaning that the sun’s ultraviolet radiation can be lethal to her. As a result, she has been forced to live in her home, with her father, Jack (Rob Riggle), in a specialized house that blocks out the sun’s rays, but can venture out at night. She’s self-taught on the guitar, is very close to her long-time friend Morgan (Quinn Shephard), and has had a crush on her neighbor, Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger) ever since they were both kids, but he doesn’t know she exists. One day, after graduating from being home-schooled, she is allowed to go to the local train station to play her guitar, where she happens to meet Charlie for the first time and the two strike up a romantic relationship. But as their relationship deepens, her condition worsens, and she doesn’t want to tell Charlie anything yet.
Awe man… I kind of like this movie.
Alright, lets get this one out of the way. Despite my personal feelings toward Thorne herself, I have to admit, she churned out arguably the best performance of her career. Katie is a pretty adorable young woman. She starts off really kind of dorky and derpy, but in a very charming way. The way she reacts when faced with Charlie in the beginning is rather cute at just how she handles it. And I do have to admit, once again, I think Thorne is a fairly solid singer. Not that I’m an expert on good or bad singing, apart from the extreme cases of tone-deafness, and it’s possible that she’s autotuned every which way, but when she sings, she has a nice voice. I know she tried to have a singing career that never took off, so I guess someone knew how to best utilize her talents. But more than anything, there does feel like she’s giving an honest and genuine performance. I felt charmed, I laughed, and I admit, I got a little choked up. Thorne gives a very engaging performance. Here’s hoping she gets more roles of similar quality.
Thorne’s not the only one that does surprisingly well. Riggle occasionally steals the show. For a dude that’s spent much of his career playing over-the-top goofy characters, this was quite a refreshing performance. He still plays up his comedy, but it’s done in a far more grounded way. Jack is funny, likable, charming, but has a very vulnerable center as a father that is just trying to give his sick daughter the best life possible. It’s certainly a clichéd character to be sure, but he plays it so well that I kind of give it a pass. The chemistry between the Riggle and Thorne is very believable and feels like a real, but quirky father-daughter relationship, which really sells it.
But before anyone thinks I’m going to exclusively sing praise, this movie has its fair share of flaws.
I’m not sure if it’s Schwarzenegger, or the material that was given to him, but Charlie is a pretty bland character. He’s got virtually no real development as a character. He just sort of walks around the movie as a typical nice guy with not much to him as a whole. Sure, he does sweet things for Katie, but that doesn’t exactly mean a whole lot. A relationship where a man does something nice for his girl? That’s standard fare, let’s face it. I won’t say the character is particularly annoying, or anything, but there’s nothing to him. Minor note though, the dude has the same toothy laugh as his father. It’s almost haunting how alike it is to the action star.
If you told me that this movie was made very specifically for Thorne and prove to the world at large that she’s talented and pretty, I would believe you because the first half hour of this movie has nearly every character making proclamations that she’s “hot.” I literally counted four or five times that someone makes a comment like that, even her own father! Eh… kind of. He says, “You look just like your mother. Lucky for you, she was hot.” To be fair, Katie does say “ew,” which I agree with, but we get it! Thorne is an aesthetically pleasing woman to look at! Please shut up!
And if you told me it was supposed to be a vehicle to start up her singing career again, I’d believe that too. Aside from the obvious that Thorne can carry a tune, there’s a specific scene that’s really trying to make its audience think that she’s the next Carrie Underwood. Katie and Patrick are on a date and he makes her play her guitar in public. First problem is that she’s hesitant for no reason because she frequently plays her guitar at her local train station where tons of people are passing by and even a kid tips her in peanut M&Ms. So why is she nervous about playing in a boulevard that’s even less crowded than the train station? Second problem, and serious ego inflation for Thorne, she starts playing and seemingly everyone up and down their immediate radius stops what they’re doing and starts listening to her play her song and even a couple start dancing. The song wasn’t that catchy, guys. Calm the hell down. Also, I frequent the Los Angeles/Hollywood areas, and I’ve see street performers. Even good ones. They never draw a crowd like the one Katie garnered. I need to slap a few wrists.
The cardinal sin of the movie is sadly the very premise of the story: Katie lies to Charlie about having any kind of sickness. Yup, she just constantly tells him that she’s busy during the day, but free at night. She lies to him because she doesn’t want him to see her as a sickness and just wants to enjoy being in the relationship for as long as possible without that baggage. This is probably one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. Look, people have empathy. A person’s immediate desire is to help and contribute to well-being in a more concrete way, even if they logically and rationally know that’s not possible, but they react as strongly as they do because they care. A person with a condition is not a disease, they are people that the most empathetic want to help. Give time and patience, they’ll come to grips and respect the way things are. But Katie, for a majority of her relationship with Charlie, refuses to give him that chance. Not only is this relationship based on an omission of truth (IE: a lie), but it’s also based on a lack of trust in her partner. To make matters worse, there is very little to no outrage from Charlie when he finds out. Granted, it’d be harsh to be screaming and cursing and wouldn’t help anyone if he’d have broken up with her, but the resolution of this lie, which is given away in the trailer, makes one wonder why the writing didn’t just nick this from the story altogether.
Overall, this movie has some flaws. Some serious flaws that objectively don’t make it a good film. It’s cheesy as hell, the very foundation of character relationships is incredibly dull and predictable, making for quite an astonishing amount of stupid in this movie. Having said all that, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying the flawed ride. I like seeing Thorne and Riggle play outside of their stereotypes and actually get an emotional reaction out of me, which is ultimately what elevates the flick for me, and despite the artery-clogging amount of proverbial cheese that this movie is, there are some legitimately sweet and romantic moments that I connected with and walked away satisfied from. As a recommendation, I think the core demographic is young adults. Teenagers and the like. It’s a date movie at best. I wouldn’t go in expecting anything enriching, but I’ve seen far worse films. And maybe it’s just the romantic in me, but I’ve always got a soft spot for romance movies. I may not recommend this in theaters though. Save it for a rental. I don’t see myself seeing it again, but I’m glad I saw it the one time. The dream that came true is flawed and stupid at times, but surprisingly heartfelt and moving.
My honest rating for MIDNIGHT SUN: a strong 3/5