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Movie review: Hard turn from lighthearted to melodramatic blocks out 'Midnight Sun'
Patrick Schwarzenegger and Bella Thorne in Midnight Sun. - photo by Josh Terry
MIDNIGHT SUN 2 stars Patrick Schwarzenegger, Bella Thorne, Rob Riggle, Quinn Shephard, Nicholas Coombe; PG-13 (some teen partying and sensuality); in general release

Scott Speers Midnight Sun is the story of a teenage girl with a rare skin condition who cant be exposed to the rays of the sun, yet finds love. If it sounds a little familiar, technically Midnight Sun is a remake of a 2006 Japanese film, but youre more likely thinking of last years Everything, Everything, about a different teenage shut-in who couldnt go outside yet finds love.

Midnight Suns protagonist is Katie (Bella Thorne). Her condition is called xeroderma pigmentosum, which is a real disorder, though it seems a little exaggerated here. Katie has lived alone with her father Jack (Rob Riggle) ever since her mother died, and her primary connection to the outside world is her best friend Morgan (Quinn Shephard).

Katie is an aspiring musician and periodically convinces her father to let her hang out at the local train station after sunset to play her guitar for loose change. Its here she meets Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger yes, Arnolds son), the local boy shes watched through her tinted bedroom window for many, many years. Charlie has a backstory, too hes a swimmer trying to get into Cal-Berkeley but his primary job is to stare lovingly at Katie.

Katie and Charlie hit things off right away and jump headfirst into a nighttime-only relationship, though Katie neglects to tell Charlie about her condition. They go to a party, where Katie gets to experience underage drinking for the first time, and once things really get going, Charlie takes Katie to Seattle for a musical dream date.

Unfortunately the date lasts a little too long into the wee hours, and things take a tonal hard left turn as Midnight Sun goes from lighthearted romance to serious drama. Apparently Katies condition is terminal, and from here Speers film twists into the kind of melodramatic tear-jerker Nicholas Sparks has honed to assassinlike perfection over the last couple of decades.

Its really too bad because Midnight Sun has its moments. Once they settle in, Thorne and Schwarzenegger have some decent chemistry, and Riggle and Shephard are both fun in their supporting roles. (Morgans own romantic subplot might have made for an entertaining double date with the leads, but oh well.)

The trouble is that the late-film seriousness makes it all the more difficult to forgive the films foundation of implausibility, which might not have mattered so much if Midnight Sun could have maintained its earlier tone.

It seems highly unlikely, especially given that Morgan is such a social butterfly, that Katie would have spent her entire adolescence in near-anonymous isolation since presumably once the sun went down she should be free to attend parties or other perfectly routine kid activities. Yet Katies encounters with Charlie feel like shes experiencing the outside world for the very first time. If we do allow for the isolation, we run into other issues, such as how Katie learned to swim before taking a late night dip with Charlie.

Then again, the target audience for Midnight Sun probably wont care too much about its flawed internal logic. This is a movie designed to get people to cry. Its just too bad it has to default to a heavy life-or-death plot twist to achieve a legitimate emotional connection.

Midnight Sun is rated PG-13 for some teen partying and sensuality; running time: 91 minutes.
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