Parents' Guide to

Half Magic

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Tons of sex in female empowerment comedy.

Movie R 2018 94 minutes
Half Magic Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+


Heather is amazing and beautiful and this movie was good.

This title has:

Great messages

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Graham's debut as feature writer-director is bold and timely and has undeniable charm. That Half Magic's exploration of female empowerment via the notion of reclaiming sexual agency comes during the #MeToo conversation adds to its resonance. This sometimes absurd comedy takes on slut shaming, sexual coercion, and finding the strength to not settle for less than what you want. What's more, it does so in the sometimes gonzo comic format that, until Bridesmaids, seemed purely the province of men. Graham's script includes outright hilarious moments, as well as some painful ones viewers might suspect came from her own experiences ("I'm not saying I'm against women's rights," says one powerful man. "I'm just saying there's no market for their films"). She relies too much on clichés that make the story predictable: We know as soon as we meet them who will end up with whom, which relationship will be a red herring, etc. There's even a friends-dancing-with-joyous-abandon scene. But these knocks don't outweigh the film's strengths. While Graham isn't yet an experienced cinematic stylist, she makes up for that with a deft hand with her actors, giving them room to breathe. As the de facto villain, D'Elia shamelessly swipes every scene he's in. Peter's misogynistic, narcissistic idiocy is flat-out hilarious. He gets the most out of the material, as when he's going on to an interviewer about his "emotional gun" or when he boasts that the woman-hating video game he's developing will "sell like Molly to a girl who doesn't talk to her parents much."

But this film is all about the women, and they hold our attention ably. Kinsey shows so many more colors here than she had the opportunity to do as uptight Angela on TV's The Office. She utterly owns a sequence of drunk dials to Lennon, somehow making it even worse when he shows up. And Beatriz' versatility is impressive. She established herself as the stony Rosa on TV's Brooklyn Nine-Nine, then earned raves as a rape victim in The Light of the Moon. Here, she's wonderfully charming in the scenes powered by Candy's positive energy and convincingly wounded when she sees the truth of her uneven relationship. And despite bearing the weight of writing and directing, Graham turns in what might be her best work on-screen. The moment when Honey's new lover tells her what she wants to hear (using words like "divinity") is touchingly vulnerable. The film lurches at times from tone to tone (Candy's real-feeling agony and some of the movie's more over-the-top absurd moments have trouble existing in the same cinematic universe), and its predictability isn't great. But Half Magic is a good time, with lots of funny moments and talented actors. And it provides a stirring response to one character's insistence that "Sex and violence is a proven formula": "What about sex and happiness?"

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