‘Midnight Sun’ better than nothing, better than ‘Everything, Everything’

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Though a genetic condition forces Katie (Bella Thorne) to avoid the sun, she still manages to capture the heart of a nice guy (Patrick Schwarzenegger). | OPEN ROAD FILMS

In last year’s “Everything, Everything,” our 18-year-old heroine Maddie has SCID, an extremely rare immune-deficiency disease that prevented her from leaving her house. Even the briefest contact with the outside world could prove fatal.

And yet she falls in love with the handsome and sensitive boy next door. Oh Maddie!

In “Midnight Sun,” our 17-year-old heroine Katie has XP, an extremely rare genetic condition that prevents her from leaving the house during the day. Even the briefest exposure to the sun could prove fatal.

And yet she falls in love with the handsome and sensitive boy who skateboards past her window every day. Oh Katie!

Let’s get into some spoiler-ific details about Katie’s situation.

Katie (played by former Disney Channel star Bella Thorne) can’t be exposed to sunlight. We get that. It makes sense for her to be home-schooled. But Katie can go out at night, so why not let her attend or even participate in school plays, athletic activities, dances, etc.?

Instead, Katie has spent nearly her entire life isolated, with just one friend, the plucky and quirky and wonderful Morgan (Quinn Shephard), who visits her nearly every day. Katie has never been to a party, has never danced with a boy, has never even had a face-to-face conversation with anyone her age other than Morgan.

Why? After all, Katie can go out at night. In fact, she often ventures to the local train station with her guitar in the evenings and plays for the kindly commuters who

drop a few coins in her guitar case. (Katie’s light pop confections had me thinking the kid must have spent her adolescence listening to Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly” over and over.)

If Dad lets her do that, why can’t she do other stuff?

We understand why Katie’s father Jack (Rob Riggle) is so protective of his daughter, given it’s been just the two of them ever since Katie’s mom died when she was just little. (Jack’s not having a good run.) But still.

Come on Jack. Give the kid some space.

About that handsome boy. His name is Charlie and he is played by Patrick Schwarzenegger, son of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver. Charlie is one of the most sensitive high school jocks in movie history. Actually, he’s a FORMER jock, or so it seems, as his promising swimming career has been curtailed by a freak injury.

Katie has been watching Charlie zip past her window every day for, like, 12 years. She loves him so much. When they finally meet in person (at the train station), Katie is so flustered she can barely communicate — but that encounter quickly develops into a tender and sweet romance.

Charlie is a great boyfriend, but intellectually speaking, he’s not swimming in the deep end of the pool. For reasons of plot contrivance, Katie doesn’t tell Charlie about her condition, and Charlie doesn’t question why she’s never available during the day.

Come on Charlie. THINK.

“Midnight Sun” is cheesy and implausible and manipulative, but it did chip away at my cynicism through the sheer force of its corny and sincere heart.

Maybe we’ll get an “Everything Midnight” crossover prequel, with Maddie and Katie connecting via Facebook.


Open Road Films presents a film directed by Scott Speer and written by Eric Kirsten. Rated PG-13 (for some teen partying and sensuality). Running time: 109 minutes. Opens Friday at local theaters.

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