Midnight at the Magnolia parents guide

Midnight at the Magnolia Parent Guide

This is a pleasant option for romance fans who want an evening of clean, low-conflict, mindless entertainment.

Overall B+

Netflix: Maggie and Jack are dating experts, hosting a local radio show where they offer advice. Their show is in line for national syndication and they plan a New Year's Eve spectacle to grab more viewers. But then their plans start to unravel...

Release date November 5, 2020

Violence A
Sexual Content A-
Profanity A
Substance Use C+

Why is Midnight at the Magnolia rated TV-G? The MPAA rated Midnight at the Magnolia TV-G

Run Time: 87 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Maggie Quinn and Jack Russo (played by Natalie Hall and Evan Williams) are lifelong best friends with a shot at the big time. The duo co-hosts a radio program about relationships which is having a test run on satellite radio and they are planning a New Year’s Eve spectacle to make sure they stay there. Scheduled to be broadcast live from their fathers’ struggling bar, The Magnolia, the show will feature Maggie and Jack introducing their significant others to their families. But a few days after Christmas, both Maggie and Jack are dumped, leaving their show (and the survival of their fathers’ jointly owned bar) in jeopardy.

Desperately trying to salvage the evening, Jack comes up with a wild idea. Why don’t he and Maggie pretend to be a couple and announce it on air?

Maggie is dubious. After all, Jack is her best friend, and pretending to be his girlfriend would feel weird. It turns out to be easier than she thinks…until the past gets in the way and the lines between make believe and reality start to blur.

I was pleasantly surprised with Midnight at the Magnolia. Low budget romantic dramas are often painfully formulaic and can verge on the unwatchable. As for this film, the ending is never in doubt, but Natalie Hall and Evan Williams are both charming enough to carry the otherwise unremarkable script. Williams is believable as the commitment-phobic, slightly goofy Jack and Hall brings an earnest sincerity to her role as the true-hearted Maggie.

Romantic dramas that go direct to streaming platforms tend to suffer from low production quality but Midnight at the Magnolia does better than most. Don’t get me wrong here – there’s nothing special abut the cinematography and the sets are minimal. But they feel less like cardboard dioramas than other films of this type and the outdoor scenes have real snow. (Hint to the director: if you’re going to film in Ottawa and tell audiences you’re in Chicago, you might want to cover up those Canadian mailboxes.)

Aside from frequent scenes of minor social drinking, the movie has no content concerns and deserves its TV-G rating. It’s safe to watch with literally anyone who’s willing to sit through a romantic movie. The icing on this festive treat is that it comes with positive messages, chief of which is that love grows from friendship and is sustained by honesty, selflessness, and courage. This is a welcome counterpoint to the message found in most movies – that love is the result of instant physical attraction and should immediately lead to sex.

Fans of rom-coms who want an evening of clean, low-conflict, mindless romance have a pleasant option here. Set your brain in the off position, don your softest jammies, grab a fuzzy blanket and a mug of hot chocolate (with marshmallows) and settle down for an evening of G-rated romance with Midnight at the Magnolia.

Directed by Max McGuire. Starring Natalie Hall, Hannah Gordon, and Evan Williams. Running time: 87 minutes. Theatrical release November 5, 2020. Updated

Watch the trailer for Midnight at the Magnolia

Midnight at the Magnolia
Rating & Content Info

Why is Midnight at the Magnolia rated TV-G? Midnight at the Magnolia is rated TV-G by the MPAA

Violence:   A woman jokes about using a taser.
Sexual Content:   A man and woman kiss on a few occasions. A man jokes about making out “like a ravenous animal”.
Profanity:   None noted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Main characters consume alcohol in several social situations, although no one is shown as intoxicated.

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Midnight at the Magnolia Parents' Guide

Maggie tells Jack that “Sometimes risking everything is the only thing worth doing.” Do you agree with her? Have you ever taken a risk for something that was important to you or someone you care about?  Who (or what) matters the most to you?

Home Video

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Dishonesty – even for a good cause – has been a plot device in other films. In Second Act, a woman applies for a job with a faked resume. Refugees from Sudan paper over the truth in The Good Lie. In You’ve Got Mail, business rivals connect online, but only one of them is unaware of the other’s identity.