Honey (Heather Graham) was raised to believe that her sexuality should never be addressed. As a child, she grew up being told by her father and her priest that having sex would ruin her life and remove the hope of ever finding true love. Years later, and she is working in Hollywood as an assistant to a sleazy, sexist actor - but she has dreams of becoming a writer. Undervalued and denigrated by her boss, she turns to an all woman’s seminar that focuses on the reclamation of her body as a source of empowerment, rather than of shame.
She meets Eva (Angela Kinsey) and Candy (Stephanie Beatriz), who each have problems of their own. Eva is a successful designer, but is still pining after her ex-husband. Candy is in a friends-with-benefits relationship with a man who does not appreciate her. Together, they form a bond, and using witchcraft, vow to only date and have sex with men who will treat them with respect.
Heather Graham’s directorial debut couldn’t arrive at a more opportune time. With a rise in women’s stories finally being told, there is something refreshing in the way Graham discusses gender disparities with frankness and brashness. Never once does the story shy away from women discussing relationships in a way that feels less than honest. These three women are unafraid to be vulgar and spiteful, of being kind and flawed. It’s a delicate dance that Graham appears to have a handle of, for the most part.
What gets in the way of the film’s success is that it doesn’t seem to find a proper balance between satire and reality. At times, the situations and dialogue are larger-than-life and a bit too on the nose for it to be taken seriously as effective satire of the current social climate. Still, though, oftentimes the characters act in ridiculous, outlandish ways that you never quite know whether to take the drama seriously or not. The central relationship between Honey, Eva, and Candy is a refreshing take on female friendships, but at times, it feels as though this friendship only serves the purpose of providing exposition and letting these women vent about the men they want and the men they can’t have. But what about the women themselves?
Graham, Kinsey, and Beatriz are all fully equipped to handle the humor of Half Magic. They chew their scenes together and create a bond that is the best part of the movie. But it might have been worth exploring the women individually - and not just the relationship they have to the men in their lives. Graham attempts to reconcile this in the last few minutes, but it does not feel fully realized. It feels as though the film wants us to believe that men come and go, but the friendships we have last a lifetime. A wonderful, touching sentiment - so then why end with another blossoming romance? In short, the idea is there and worth being discussed, but Graham’s romp doesn’t quite stick the landing.
Half Magic in select theaters, VOD and Digital HD on Friday, February 23!