A movie star and a junior hotel manager meet cute in Mexico in this ingratiating rom-com.
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By Ben Kenigsberg
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Not long ago, a little-noticed indie called “Dating & New York” (2021) nudge-nudged viewers into noticing how it put a millennial spin on a timeworn rom-com formula. (You’ve heard of Instagram? Podcasts? So had the movie.) In that case, a likable cast helped hedge against clichés and the self-consciously peppy approach of the writer-director, Jonah Feingold.
“At Midnight,” Feingold’s follow-up as director — he’s not the sole screenwriter this time — again has attractive leads with decent chemistry, but for whatever reason the balance tips the other way, and their efforts aren’t enough to counteract the filmmaker’s strained whimsy and tired formal tricks.
Sophie (Monica Barbaro) is the star of a superhero franchise that she quietly thinks is silly (“and according to Scorsese not cinema”). Her on- and offscreen romantic partner, Adam (Anders Holm), turns out to be cheating on her, but Sophie chooses to maintain the appearance that they’re still together, to avoid what her agent describes as becoming Katie Holmes to Adam’s Tom Cruise. (That’s just one of many ingratiating attempts at Hollywood humor in a movie that also finds time to plug “Florence Pugh’s cookbook release party.”)
While shooting a sequel in Mexico, Sophie meets cute with Alejandro (Diego Boneta), a junior manager at the hotel who realizes that Sophie’s room needs towels and delivers them at the predictably awkward time. But hey, he can cook, and for whatever reason he has a lot more charisma than her movie star ex.
Barbaro and Boneta’s charm offensive never amounts to much, though. The eagerness this film has to please could never match how pleased Feingold clearly is to be making a movie like it.
Rated R. A towel-free meet cute. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes. Watch on Paramount+.
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