REVIEW: “At Midnight” (2023)

(CLICK HERE to read my full review in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

Directed by Jonah Feingold, “At Midnight” can never quite break out of its rom-com mold. It employs nearly every genre trope in the book and ends exactly where and how you expect it to. But that’s not to say there isn’t some enjoyment to be had. Feingold does a good job tapping into the chemistry between his two leads. And the script (written by Feingold, Maria Hinojos, and Giovanni M. Porta) takes some light but effective jabs at Hollywood politics. And its lead, Monica Barbaro (“Top Gun Maverick”) should be a star on the rise and she makes it easier to look past some of the film’s more frustrating shortcomings.

Barbaro plays Sophie Wilder, an actress preparing to shoot the third film in the popular superhero trilogy “Super Society”. But things get complicated after she walks in on her obtuse co-star and boyfriend Adam (Anders Holm) cheating on her. Sophie’s antsy manager Chris (Casey Thomas Brown) and her outspoken agent Margot (Whitney Cummings) push her to keep the scandal under wraps, fearing the sudden breakup of Hollywood’s ‘it’ couple would be a publicity nightmare for their upcoming film. Needless to say it adds a little stress to the scheduled press tour.

Image Courtesy of Paramount+

Soon Sophie is off to shoot the movie in Mexico, accompanied by her free-spirited comic relief best friend Rachel (because most rom-com best friends have to be free-spirited comic relief). She’s played by comedian Catherine Cohen who delivers a handful of good laughs despite being handcuffed by an all-too-familiar stock character archetype. Upon arriving at their deluxe hotel, Sophie meets Alejandro (Diego Boneta) in the most rom-com of ways (you’ll know what I mean when you see it). He’s a good-looking junior manager working in guest relations with big dreams of opening up his own hotel.

I doubt it’ll surprise you where things go from there. Sophie and Alejandro start off at odds with each other only to soon fall in love. But of course there has to be some tension. For Sophie it’s the studio’s wish to hide her split with the buffoonish Adam. For Alejandro it’s the hotel’s strict rules against employees hooking up with guests. It all leads to some late-night sneaking around and some comic close-calls. To Feingold’s credit he never overdoes the hijinks. What humor we get doesn’t always land, but at least we aren’t drowned in it.

Things inevitably get a little syrupy at the end which should surprise no one. But in a way it’s hard to hold that against Feingold and his film. While I may wish it had something more original to offer, there’s a specific crowd expectation that comes with a movie like this. Feingold and company set out to meet that expectation, and I’m betting there’s a very specific audience who will leave “At Midnight” plenty satisfied. It also serves as another highlight for Monica Barbaro who is good throughout and routinely elevates the material she’s given. “At Midnight” is now streaming on Parmount+.


7 thoughts on “REVIEW: “At Midnight” (2023)

  1. I can’t stand Diego Boneta. Too pretty for me and bland as fuck. As bland as the awful potato salad my aunt (from my father’s side) made a long time ago. I hate potato salad!

      • He was in Rock of Ages w/ Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand, and Alec Baldwin. He was the male lead to Julianne Hough. AWFUL FUCKING FILM. Tom Cruise is actually decent in that one as was Paul Giamatti and Cruise’s monkey. It was just horrendous as I couldn’t watch Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand singing “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” to each other. It is so cringe. A musical based on a bunch of 80s songs that weren’t good to begin with.

  2. Saw this the other night. Nothing particularly new and all pretty predictable, but it was enjoyable enough. Monica Barbaro was a delight though, will be looking out for more of her work.

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