A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Midnight Sun -- a romance based on a Japanese film about a girl (Bella Thorne) who's deathly allergic to the sun -- is about as tame as a story of doomed, passionate teenage love could be. There's lots of kissing and a drunken hookup in a car, but nobody goes beyond "first base." The main concern for most parents will likely be the teen drinking, which is handled somewhat irresponsibly. Teens drink a lot at a party (the main character has presumably never done this before), then drive around town -- all with no consequences. There's also a bit of language (including "s--t," "ass," and "damn"), and the sole Asian character is portrayed stereotypically. Spoiler alert: The story also involves assisted suicide, which is a complicated issue. But it's also quite romantic and will likely appeal to teens. Patrick Schwarzenegger and Rob Riggle co-star.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
MIDNIGHT SUN is a romantic drama based on the 2006 Japanese film Song to the Sun (Taiyō no Uta). Katie (Bella Thorne) is a gorgeous, talented, smart teenager who has a perfect relationship with her protective dad, Jack (Rob Riggle), and loves hanging out with her ultra-loyal best friend, Morgan (Quinn Shephard), in the well-to-do Seattle suburb they call home. Just one thing prevents Katie from meeting her unknowing crush, Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger): She has a rare condition that makes even a few moments of sun exposure likely fatal. But they meet anyway because of her musical talent and start up a star-crossed romance in the summer after they both graduate high school (or the home-schooled equivalent). Will Charlie, who's recovering from shoulder surgery, regain the swimming form that once promised him a full ride at UC Berkeley, possibly taking him away from homebound Katie? And will Katie tell Charlie about her condition?
Is it any good?
The virtues of this star-crossed teen romance can't quite overcome its contrivances. Like 2017's charming Everything, Everything, to which it bears a striking (and uncomfortable?) resemblance, Midnight Sun struggles with the increasingly tricky challenge of how to craft a big enough obstacle to keep two would-be lovers apart in today's age of instant global communication. Both films use ultra-rare but dramatically convenient medical conditions to isolate their main characters in their nice homes in their fancy suburbs and keep them from living full lives with their perfect, evolved, dreamboat crushes. Midnight hopes to coast on Thorne and Shephard's charms and the shiny dreaminess of love interest Charlie, with a boost from Katie's songs.
But its wall isn't built high enough. Why must Katie be a hermit? Why can't she share her secret with Charlie until it becomes a safety issue? Does Charlie have any flaws, or is his terrible secret that he's perfect? The story takes place in a fantasy world in which teens drink at parties with no consequences, even when they jump behind the wheel of a truck right afterward. Charlie has ins everywhere, it seems, including nightclubs, recording studios, and train stations, despite his obsessive devotion to swimming. And perhaps least understandably, these two attractive teens make out all over the place but apparently never go past first base (despite the fatalism that informs the film's second half). This lack of mooring in reality sets the drama adrift and makes it difficult to invest in the characters' plight. But it will certainly appeal to romantic teens, and there's one standout performance: Riggle, in a rare extended dramatic appearance. He ekes out a few chuckles as Katie's devoted dad, but, more importantly, he provides ballast and emotional realism. More of that grounding might have benefited Midnight Sun.
Talk to your kids about ...
How realistic does the movie feel? Does everyone behave believably? Does that even matter, or do you put that all aside when watching a romantic drama?
What did you think of Katie's decision not to tell her boyfriend about her condition?
- In theaters: March 23, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: June 19, 2018
- Cast: Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Rob Riggle
- Director: Scott Speer
- Studio: Open Road Films
- Genre: Romance
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some teen partying and sensuality
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love romance
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch