Friday, January 1, 2021

Netflix Picks: Midnight at the Magnolia

By now I am sure everyone who reads my blog knows how addicted I am to Hallmark and Hallmark-ish movies. When I found this new one on Netflix, I knew I had to check it out. Picture this: two people pretend to be a couple to get their radio show syndicated, with their big “relationship reveal” for their fans to be made during a New Year’s party. As with many movies and TV shows that involve stories where people pretend to be a couple, the whole act becomes complicated when the two people realize that there is more at stake with what they are doing than they realize.

Natalie Hall and Evan Williams play Maggie and Jack, longtime friends who are morning radio show hosts from Chicago. They have been friends all their lives because of their parents, who co-own a restaurant/jazz bar called Magnolia. When they were informed by their producer that there may be a chance for their show to get syndicated, they jump at the chance by playing off the idea that their fans had of whether or not they can be a couple by pretending that they already are. This excites the producer, who then plans a big event where they will make the reveal of their relationship during a special live stream New Year’s Eve party at the Magnolia.

As soon as they start pretending, complications started to happen. For one, their families apparently wanted them to end up together all along. Lying to their all-too-happy families and knowing they will be disappointed when they admit to their act was something they did not expect to happen. Then, there is the fact that Maggie was already in love with Jack back in high school and he broke her heart by going out with another girl instead of her. Eventually, Jack also realizes that he had feelings for Maggie too, but not after she decides that he is not worth the trouble. Things become all too real for both of them that they ended up breaking it off right before the party, only for Jack to make the expected grand gesture in the end that brings them back together. 

As with most romantic movies like this, the story is fairly predictable, often cheesy, and the lead characters will of course end up together. Stories of people pretending to be a couple almost always end up with the two people falling in love. It also asks the often-asked question of whether or not a guy and a girl could just be friends. I think the thing that makes predictable films like this stand out is when the movie features charming lead characters and has a good enough story to fill up the in-between the beginning and the end of the story. Unfortunately, I felt that this movie was lacking in that department. 

To me, the movie did not establish the falling in love part enough. It was like they were friends, pretended to be in love and then BOOM – love! I also did not feel the chemistry between the two characters, which made the whole thing tough to watch. Honestly, I only stuck with it because of Natalie Hall, who I really enjoyed watching on several TV shows such as Unreal and Charmed. I love that she can take on different roles and be a completely different person every time and I was hoping she could carry this movie enough to make me like it but sadly it did not. 

I wanted to like this movie so much. It had its moments, but it was not enough for me to like it. Still, it is better than another movie that I have put on hold because I could not get myself to finish it (even if Netflix keeps reminding me to finish it). I wish I could recommend Midnight at the Magnolia, but you are really not missing out on anything if you do not want to watch it. 


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