I feel bad for the six 14-year-old girls who sat in my row at Midnight Sun last weekend, in particular, the last one to arrive who was forced to sit next to me and was audibly annoyed. Which makes sense. You go out to see the new Bella Thorne film with the whole crew and you have to be the one who sits next to the grumpy old weirdo in the back row? I probably ruined that girl’s day with my grumpiness. Kid, if you’re reading this, I apologize. Also, please delete the picture you took of me. That wasn’t cool. And, a word of advice — when you pretend to take a selfie but your hand keeps shifting the phone’s position in time with your glances at the person next to you, that’s a dead giveaway. Also, please stop taking pictures during movies. And if that’s simply too much to ask, then please try to limit using the flash. Come to think of it, I take back my apology.
I do wonder what those kids got out of watching Midnight Sun. Did they wonder how Katie, who suffers from xeroderma pigmentosum and will therefore die if she goes in the sun, gets around to her daytime doctor appointments? Or why she and her dad (Rob Riggle) are both terrified of her being in the sun for even two seconds but think nothing of her attending a daytime swim meet with only a hoodie for protection? Or why she explains that she has to sleep during the day and stay awake at night when she is clearly shown sleeping at night and staying up every day with blackout screens on all the windows in her house? How would that even work when she’s being home-schooled by her dad who has a normal 9-5 job? Did they think about how shameless the Peanut M&M product placement was getting by the sixth time they were featured either onscreen or in dialogue? Did any of that bother those kids? It didn’t seem to. Which, I suppose, is the point.
It’s not a movie that’s built to make much sense. It’s just a delivery system for angsty adolescent drama. That would even work if there were any attempt at a metaphor, but the film plays all of this fairly straight with no real push to anything deeper. Which, again, is fine. Because it clearly floored those 14-year-olds, who were sobbing next to me at the end while I was busy making Nosferatu jokes and freaking out about how badly the director screwed up trying to go full Soderbergh but accidentally shot an entire movie on his Nokia flip phone.
So, sure, it’s a movie that’s good enough for any random group of young teen girls to appreciate. But I really want to get away from this whole idea that kids are inherently bad at watching movies or don’t know what’s good for them. Fourteen was the age I saw my first Hammer horror films and Liquid Sky and Dr. Strangelove — all shown to me by a 14-year-old girl. Romantic dramas will always do well. But I wish those kids had been lining up and packing theaters to see Every Day instead of this nonsense. And I wish Orion had thought ahead and marketed their film to these kids in the first place.
Rated PG-13 for some teen partying and sensuality. Now playing at AMC River Hills Classic 10, Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande.