Mark Reviews Movies

Half Magic


2 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Heather Graham

Cast: Heather Graham, Angela Kinsey, Stephanie Betriz, Jason Lewis, Luke Arnold, Chris D'Elia, Thomas Lennon, Alex Beh, Rhea Perlman 

MPAA Rating: R (for strong sexual content, nudity, language and drug use)

Running Time: 1:34

Release Date: 2/23/18 (limited)

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Capsule review by Mark Dujsik | February 22, 2018

Heather Graham's debut as both a screenwriter and a director is a mishmash of romantic comedy, buddy movie, and feminist ideas about empowerment in relationships, through sex, and at work—with the suggestion that there's some magic at play in achieving those goals. That last part seems a little out of place in Half Magic, but that's only if you actually believe that some supernatural power is responsible for the growth of these characters. It's never entirely clear if that's the point Graham wants to make.

That seems unlikely, and it's better to look at Honey (Graham), Eva (Angela Kinsey), and Candy's (Stephanie Beatriz) devotion to supposedly magical candles as a half-baked hook to tie together the narrative's various threads. This is, for the most part, a comedy about female empowerment as viewed through the lens of self-help stuff. If these women can only learn to love, respect, and trust themselves and each other, surely their lives will fall into place and their deepest wishes for fulfillment will be realized.

It's an admirable sentiment, but there's little more to admire as much within the movie's attempt to provide as wide a scope as possible about what it's like to live as a woman in modern society. There's a lot, of course, about men, with the trio of women all looking for the right guy or trying to mold an available guy into the right one. Honey is dating her boss, an actor (played by Chris D'Elia) whose career choices reflect his misogynistic attitudes, and he ignores her dreams of becoming a filmmaker. Eva is divorced and starts up a relationship with her ex-husband Darren's (Thomas Lennon) friend Mark (Jason Lewis). Candy is dating a guy (played by Alex Beh) who treats her like his personal assistant.

Graham has much to say here, and it's entirely possible that it's simply too much when set against the movie's bright tone and light touch. Eva and Candy's stories feel like only slight variations on Honey's experiences, which makes the characters seem redundant in the big picture. Half Magic is at its best and broadest when Graham's character is trying to get her foot into the male-dominated world of Hollywood—a story that, given Graham's work in making this movie, seems as if it deserves its own, exclusive telling.

Copyright © 2018 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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