Plot: Katie (Bella Thorne) has watched the world through her window her entire life, seeing her peers go to school, have fun, and live normal lives, but she is unable to even set foot outside to join them. Even the window she looks through isn’t a normal one, a special design that allows her to see the outside world, but protect her from the rays of the sun. Katie has a rare disease known as XP, which makes the sun’s rays harmful to her and even a slight exposure could lead to her death. She spends time her time writing and playing music, spending time with her dad Jack (Rob Riggle) and friend Morgan (Quinn Shephard), and wishing she could just go outside. At night, she sometimes ventures to the local train station and performs her music, which is where she attracts the attention of Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger). He happens to be someone she has watched pass by her window and daydreamed about, so when she finally meets him, she awkwardly runs off and leaves her music journal behind. This leads to the spark of a relationship between the two, but will Katie be open about her XP, or will she hide it out of fear it will scare Charlie off?
Entertainment Value: Midnight Sun is teen melodrama, but it knows its audience, keeps things simple, and turns out a solid movie. A remake of a Japanese movie of the same name, Midnight Sun spins the same narrative, but while the original was slow and too drawn out, this version keeps it tight. The leaner, more efficient approach pays off, as we have a movie that focus on the core narrative and characters, but has little to no filler involved. Of course, this is still an emotional, teen melodrama, but it stands out from its peers, I think. The movie keeps things bright, even wholesome and that works well, even with an emotional narrative involved. There’s no villains or conflict aside from the ever present shadow of Katie’s condition, just the story of a young woman who wants to feel normal, even if just for a short time. Bella Thorne was an ideal choice for the lead here, as she has all the charm and perkiness the role needs, not to mention she has the teen awkwardness down pat by now. She brings a lot of charisma to Katie and also nails the comic moments, which are crucial to Midnight Sun. Patrick Schwarzenegger is a little on the generic side, but he is passable.
While Thorne carries the movie and does so quite well, one reason Midnight Sun works is the supporting cast. Schwarzenegger isn’t memorable, as I said, but Rob Riggle and Quinn Shephard more than compensate. Riggle is best known for his outlandish comedic work, but he pulls off the loving, concerned dad role with ease. He hits the emotional beats and dramatic moments, but also brings the warmth and humor, he feels like a real, caretaker type father here. I assumed he was just around for laughs here, but he delivers and then some. Quinn Shephard is also good in the best friend role, even though I would have liked her to have more to do. These performances embrace the wholesome, but melodramatic nature of the material, so yes they’re a little over the top, but that’s what this movie needs. I am not often a fan of these kind of tragic teen romances, but Midnight Sun gets the basics right and it pays off. A tight, simple narrative, a great cast, and competent production values make sure Midnight Sun rises above the usual teen melodrama movies.