Midnight Sun, C
Rated PG-13, 91 minutes
The new young adult romantic tearjearker "Midnight Sun" is about Schwarznenegger's son falling in love with a Jessica Chastain lookalike who has a rare disease that prevents her from sunlight exposure. Generic and predictable, this "Fault in Our Stars" knockoff lacks originality, yet the leads are appealing to barely keep it above water.
17-year old Katie Price ("The DUFF's" Bella Thorne and resident Jessica Chastain lookalike) lives with a life-threatening sensitivity to sunlight caused by the rare genetic condition, xeroderma pigmentosum. During the day she is housebound, having only her father, Jack (comedian Rob Riggle) for company. Katie's world opens up after dark when she ventures outside to play her guitar. One night, her dreams come true when she’s noticed and asked out by her longtime crush, Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger, Arnold's son, of "Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse"), whom she’s secretly watched from her bedroom window for years. As they embark on nightly summer excursions, Katie’s risk to sunlight grows and she’s presented with the gut-wrenching dilemma of whether she can live a normal life.
The bland, likable "Midnight Sun" is a remake of a 2006 Japanese film with the same premise and it tends to stick to the shallow end of the pool, but is charming enough to win over some love-struck fans. It's directed by Scott Speer ("Step Up Revolution") and is written by Eric Kirsten and benefits from having the roguishly handsome Schwarzenegger and the lovely Thorne as the leads, for without their warm chemistry the film wouldn't be as good as it is. Schwarzenegger bears some resemblance to his father, he seems to have more Kennedy in him, and in some scenes he looks like a young Jack or Bobby Kennedy.
Otherwise, "Midnight Sun" is a B-grade, small-screen "Fault in Our Stars" with a dose of flavorless Nicholas Sparks thrown in for good measure. It's not as bad as it appears, though good enough to make you grab a few tissues at the end. The predictable plotting and the cardboard characters - Schwarzenegger's character in particular is poorly written with nearly zero backstory - make it seem all the more cookie-cutter. The film spends so much time with Thorne's Katie that Charlie, except for his good looks, seems an afterthought.
"Midnight Sun" is serviceable enough, and peppered with a few moments that'll make you both laugh and cry, which seems its intention from the outset. It's not horrible, but your movie nachos are likely to have more flavor.