By Liz Lopez
“Midnight Sun” will not make viewers reach for tissues for tears of sadness, but rather for the money spent at the theater to view a rehashed 90 minute story about a girl who meets the boy of her dreams and an ongoing illness brings an early demise. I wanted to like the film after viewing the trailer last month, but there is not enough new material in this script written by Eric Kirsten that is directed by Scott Speer (“Step Up Revolution”). I have read other reviews comparing this film to a Nicholas Sparks novel because of the style, but if I were Mr. Sparks, I may be a bit offended for using my name that way. “Midnight Sun” is based on the 2006 Japanese film “Taiyo no uta,” by Kenji Bando who is also credited as a writer for this feature film.
The film begins with a narration by Katie (Bella Thorne, “The Babysitter,” “Amityville: The Awakening”) who provides all the back story about her rare condition called xeroderma pigmentosum or XP that does not allow her any exposure to the sun or it is lethal. Her mother passed away in a car accident, leaving her dad, Jack (Rob Riggle, “12 Strong,” “How to be a Latin Lover”), to find treatment options, home school her and encourage her love of music and playing guitar.
Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger, “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse,” “Grown Ups 2” and son of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver) is the secret crush she sees from her window year after year; something her only childhood BFF Morgan (Quinn Shepard, “Blame,” “Assassination of a High School President”) is unaware of all these years.
The script has romantic movie clichés; Katie’s doctor talks about the severity of her condition; Charlie meets Jack, the overprotective dad, who asks him questions on a “getting to know him” basis and one that may have meant to be comedic falls flat. Riggle is a good comedic actor and knows how to deliver a good line, but this scene seems a bit too “expected.” If Charlie was a star athlete in this small town, surely Jack should have known from the newspapers about the success and later “the accident” he had. All of the actors turned in an adequate performance – as if they were asked to do so – instead of putting some real emotion behind their part of the script.