Cast: Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Rob Riggle, Quinn Shephard
Director: Scott Speer
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: MIDNIGHT SUN is a romantic tearjerker about 17-year-old Katie Price (Bella Thorne), sheltered at home since childhood with a rare genetic condition, a life-threatening sensitivity to sunlight. Having only her father Jack (Rob Riggle) for company, Katie’s world opens up after dark when she ventures outside to play her guitar. One night, her dreams come true when she’s noticed and asked out by her longtime crush Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger), whom she’s secretly watched from her bedroom window for years. As they embark on nightly summer excursions, Katie’s risk to sunlight grows and she’s presented with the gut-wrenching dilemma of whether she can live a normal life with her newfound soul mate.
The young adult genre requires a certain amount of tact to stand out amongst a crowded series of tropes and clichéd moments. Midnight Sun stands out, but unfortunately it is for all the wrong reasons. Based on dialogue that does not inspire anything, characters that cannot convey emotion to save their lives, and a plot that has multiple stories that are either nonsense or lead nowhere, Midnight Sun takes any chance it had at being a relatively decent movie and throws it in the garbage.
The plot focuses on Katie Price (Thorne), a 17-year-old with xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), which causes extreme sensitivity to sunlight. This prevents her from living a normal teenage life as she must sleep during the day and spend the nights with her overprotective father Jack (Riggle) and her one childhood friend Morgan (Shephard). She watches everyday as her next door neighbor Charlie (Schwarzenegger) lives the type of life she wants and develops a crush on him. Charlie eventually notices her and their journeys together fuel the rest of the story. One of the main issues is that the actors do not make us feel like there is a struggle going on their characters lives. Schwarzenegger and Thorne are absolutely wooden and make this film feel much longer than it actually is. For such a debilitating disease like XP, you would think there would be bigger consequences or reactions towards the way these two leads interact with one another. Any scene that is supposed to be incredibly emotional, with the exception of maybe the conclusion, falls flat and does not make me feel anything. Outside of the actors themselves, I am not quite sure why Thorne was cast in the lead role to portray someone with such an unfortunate disease. Before this movie, I did not know what XP was, but when I looked up some photos of what it does to people, the results were pretty horrific. Thorne looks and acts like if she gets caught in the sun she can throw on some SPF 15 and take an aspirin and be good to go. Any sort of makeup or effects to show just how bad the disease can get or showing some damage from a previous encounter with the sun would give a level of real-life elements that the film was sorely missing. Regarding the story, there are multiple, I guess you could say, subplots that are either completely unnecessary or go nowhere. In one of Charlie’s first scenes, a girl from his school starts flirting with him, but Charlie is not interested and leaves the party. When Charlie brings Katie to that girl’s house for a different party, I thought this is where the rivalry between Katie and this girl begins. But in the biggest plot twist since The Sixth Sense, we never see her again. Why show any of those scenes if you had no intention of developing her character? It is a waste of time and you could use that time to actually develop Katie or Charlie more. At this same party, Morgan is shown kissing her annoying co-worker Garver (Nicholas Coombe). If this was a one-off moment, it would honestly be kind of funny, but they try to weave this relationship into the plot by showing those two together with Katie and Charlie. Morgan is a supporting character, so her job is to support the main plotline. When a random and out-of-place subplot emerges, it changes the tone from somewhat serious and romantic to goofy and whimsical. Morgan and Katie already had a good enough chemistry with lighthearted moments where this subplot was completely unnecessary and out of nowhere. The one positive thing I will say about Midnight Sun is that I was fairly impressed with the performance of Rob Riggle. I usually associate Riggle with lighthearted comedies with a few dramatic films sprinkled in, so seeing him in a role that allows him to have those moments while also being face with a life or death situation was intriguing. He was the only one that I did not feel was phoning in his performance and his scenes towards the end were the most moving in the film. This goes to show that just because an actor usually gets typecast in one role does not mean they are not talented enough to work successfully on other projects.
Overall, I do not see the purpose of Midnight Sun as anything other than a cash grab at a demographic that will watch pretty much anything. This is unfortunate, because if acted and directed properly, this could have been an interesting movie. Instead, we got another mediocre, unoriginal teen drama to add to an already gigantic list.
Overall Score: 1.5/10