Photo via pluggedin.com.

3.5 stars

Netflix has jumped on the bandwagon and is getting fans ready for Christmas with festive rom-coms and shows. Much like in the style of Lifetime and Hallmark, these holiday specials are identifiable by their predictable, enjoyable plots and the romance that exudes from every scene. “Midnight at the Magnolia,” one of Netflix’s newest holiday films, was released to Netflix on Nov. 5, 2020 and was directed by Max McGuire.

The film revolves around Maggie Quinn and Jack Russo, two Chicago radio hosts who have been close family friends and worked together for years. They joke around on air, both giving each other dating advice and taking questions. After learning there is a chance their show will become nationally syndicated, they take the situation into their own hands in order to increase the odds. They come up with a scheme to trick fans into thinking they are together, after a suggestion from their boss to introduce each other to their significant others. This “big reveal” is planned to take place during their live New Years Eve show at The Magnolia, a restaurant/club owned by their close fathers. 

Maggie is played by Natalie Hall, and Jack is played by actor Evan Williams. Other cast members in the film include Allison Brooks as Deb Clarkson, Maggie and Jack’s boss, Steve Cumyn as Steve Quinn, Michael Gordin Shore as Martin Russo, and Victoria Maria as Amanda. The movie has a run time of 1 hour and 27 minutes, and is rated TV-G.

Maggie and Jack have very punchy, outgoing and playful personalities that make the film easy and enjoyable to watch. Their chemistry on set is undeniable, which is the key to any realistic romantic comedy. Maggie is vibrant, sarcastic and well-dressed in her festive sweaters with perfectly curled hair. She is funny and relatable in a way that is entertaining. Jack on the other hand is laid back, goes with the flow and has a low-maintenance attitude that makes for an interesting contrast between the pair. Their relationship dynamic is close, friendly, and makes the film worth the watch.

The setting of “Midnight at the Magnolia” is realistic, wintery and festive. The film takes place in the bustling city of Chicago during December, but was actually filmed in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Maggie and Jack’s office space in the movie is modern, upbeat and reflects the easy going nature of the characters. Other places the setting takes us include The Magnolia, the streets of Chicago, and snowy neighborhoods outside of the city.

The best scene in the film was toward the end when the movie jumped to a year later in time. Jack and Maggie were sledding on a beautiful snowy hill overlooking the Chicago skyscrapers. This allowed fans to enjoy the scenery, get a deeper glimpse into the couple’s complex relationship and feel the holiday spirit as the characters are preparing for another Christmas. 

The movie was a breath of fresh air and a much needed distraction during this hectic, busy and ever-changing time of year. Although much like many other romantic holiday films, this was worth the watch and a funny, relaxing movie.