At some point, as a romantic comedy is failing right before your eyes, you settle for “at least it’s not offensive.”
“At Midnight” is the mildest R-rated rom-com on record, a tame and tepid affair pairing up a couple of career supporting players as the leads, with mild-mannered laughs, lukewarm love scenes and conventional wish-fulfillment-fantasy plot points.
Think “Notting Hill,” with Spanish accents instead of British ones. There’s even an “I’m standing here” line, and a visit to a birthday dinner with the lucky duck “civilian” who falls for a movie star.
Avrile Lavigne had an “obvious” line about that. And yes, she’s mentioned in the movie.
Monica Barbaro of “Top Gun: Maverick,” plays movie star Sophie, about to shoot the third film in the “Super Society” super hero trilogy with her co-star and faithless, boorish lover of five years Adam (Anders Holm of “Game Over, Man”) when she catches him cheating.
Not to worry. They share an agent (Whitney Cummings), who tells Adam “Cheating? It’s actually very hip. Very FRENCH…ForGIVE yourself!” Sophie she warns to keep quiet and think about defining herself by her famous, feckless beaus.” Remember Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston?
“Don’t be another Jen.”
That film shoot down in Cancún and Isla Mujeres will be awkward, maybe even painful. Then comes the “meet cute.”
Alejandro (Diego Boneta) is a bilingual assistant manager at the resort hotel where the cast is staying, demoted to looking after “la artiste,” the fetching leading lady, which means dropping off towels while she’s prepping for a shower.
He’s “seen me naked,” she complains.
“I wasn’t looking!”
“Well, NOW I’m offended!”
Yeah, the script is a tad retro. And duller that supermarket salsa. But let the limp “forbidden romance” begin. He’s endangering his career by violating “rule #1” for the hotel staff, “no dating guests.” She has to keep this breakup with the cheater quiet until after the film is shot, maybe until after the premiere.
But those crazy kids…
Catherine Cohen plays Sophie’s scene-stealing BFF turned personal assistant.
“Actors! They’re all unstable narcissists with no perfection of reality!”
Casey Thomas Brown is Sophie’s bitchy gay manager, constantly in conflict with her bullying, self-serving agent.
“If I wanted to get ‘topped’ I’d go on Grindr!”
Cummings and those two are the only “sparks” of comedy that “At Midnight” provides. But hats off for contriving a most realistic conflict/break-up scene for people of wildly different statuses, the one moment in this “Notting Hill” knockoff that plays as poignant and believable as the original film.
But “believable” kind of goes out the door when your tale is about a movie starlet falling in love, not dating for status, career, riches etc. That only happens in the movies.
Rating: R for some language
Cast: Monica Barbaro, Anders Holm, Diego Boneta, Catherine Cohen, Casey Thomas Brown, Fernando Carsa and Whitney Cummings.
Credits: Directed by Jonah Feingold, scripted by Maria Hinojos and Jonah Feingold. A Paramount+ release.
Running time: 1:39