From the opening credits to Grant Fonda’s score to how Feingold frames the film, everything about the film makes it feel like an old-school Hollywood picture. Hell, there’s even a joke in the film about Martin Scorsese’s comments on superhero movies being like theme parks. Word to the wise, it’s best not to eat or drink anything during that scene. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be laughing so hard. I’m not saying that I choked but I came THIS CLOSE to actually choking on a sandwich from laughing so hard.
In any event, yes, At Midnight does play to all of the romantic comedy movie tropes. However, it does so in a way that still feels fresh just because of how we’re getting to see Mexico in a different way. How often do we see a romantic comedy set on a movie set in Mexico? I like this approach to the film because you never know what’s going to happen. Of course, anything that can go wrong will go wrong when Sophie (Monica Barbaro) and Alejandro (Diego Boneta) spend the night together at the beach. G-d forbid something bad happens to them but shouldn’t a vacation day be a vacation day from work.
Anyway, Sophie is a movie star if you didn’t figure this out already. At the start of the film, she catches boyfriend/co-star Adam (Anders Holm) cheating on her and then has to pretend to stay in a relationship with him. It’s terrible timing because Sophie wants to spinoff her character into a new film franchise. All the while, she meets Alejandro, who is working as a hotel manager. Their meet-cute may feel like a cliché but it’s still funny. The towel sequence is probably way better than the original elevator sequence that was initially written. Alejandro has dreams of opening his own boutique hotel but soon enough, one will imagine that Sophie will be part of his future, too. But for now, they both have to navigate their own worlds and secretly meet up at midnight.
Rachel Abrams (Catherine Cohen) is Sophie’s best friend and basically working as her personal assistant. It’s talent manager Chris (Casey Thomas Brown)–on the list of The Hollywood Reporter‘s 35 Under 35–offering the most comic relief when Sophie goes MIA for a day. Things do get awkward with Margot (Whitney Cummings) representing both Sophie and Adam especially after Adam is caught cheating. Who is she really working for? Meanwhile, Alejandro has his own best friend at the hotel, Tachi (Fernando Carsa), when not dealing with hotel manager Aurelia (Maya Zapata).
I have to admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the film. Obviously, I thought there might be some sort of homage to Hook just from knowing Feingold’s taste in movies. There’s some solid homages to the work of both Billy Wilder and William Wyler. I love that the filmmaker directing the superhero movie is female. You do not see this too often so it’s especially nice to see a female filmmaker behind Super Society 3, the third film in the trilogy. I kind of actually want to watch that film now! But in any event, Jonah Feingold knows what makes a romantic comedy work. One, is that the meet cute needs to set up the rest of the film. Two, both Diego Boneta and Monica Barbaro must have the chemistry to carry the film forward. Three, the rooms at the Atelier Hotel look gorgeous!
At Midnight is a classically old-fashioned romantic comedy that also works as a love letter to Mexico and its culture. It allows audiences to see the country in a different perspective. It’s a film that shouldn’t make people so scared of Mexicans coming into the US, too.
DIRECTOR: Jonah Feingold
SCREENWRITERS: Giovanni Porta, Maria Hinojos, Jonah Feingold
CAST: Diego Boneta, Monica Barbaro, Anders Holm, Catherine Cohen, Casey Thomas Brown, Fernando Carsa, and Whitney Cummings
Paramount+ launches At Midnight on February 10, 2023. Grade: 4/5
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