After a 30-year career as an actress, Heather Graham is getting behind the camera. She’s the director, writer and star — along with Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Stephanie Beatriz and the Office’s Angela Kinsey — of the new comedy Half Magic.
Graham plays Honey, who we’re introduced to as a child in a flashback scene in which her father berates her for watching a premarital sex scene on TV, telling her, “You could go to hell for those urges.” In the present, Honey is still plagued with guilt when she has sex with her boyfriend/boss, arrogant movie star Peter (Chris D’Elia), who insists on calling her a “dirty little slut” during sex, which Honey hates. And the demeaning sex isn’t the only thing wrong in their relationship: although Peter pretends to he supports Honey’s screenwriting ambitions, he offers criticisms like, “I’m not saying I’m against women’s rights, I’m just saying there’s no market for their films.”
In an attempt to boost her spirits and connect with her sex drive, Honey decides to attend a female empowerment workshop (led by Molly Shannon in a cameo appearance as “Mistress Valencia”). There, Honey meets and instantly befriends Eva (Angela Kinsey), a successful designer who seems to have her life together but is secretly falling apart after her husband left her for a much-younger woman, and Candy (Stephanie Beatriz, hilariously playing against type), a bubbly young woman who is obsessed with unicorns — and who is struggling to ask the man she’s sleeping with to commit to monogamy. Candy dabbles in magic, and she convinces Honey and Eva to join her in casting spells to bring all of them love, career success, confidence, and happiness.
Much of Honey’s magic comes in finding the courage to speak out against sexism in Hollywood. Peter specializes in “final girl”-type movies with lots of gore (his latest is called “Kill The Sluts”), and Honey isn’t a fan of the virgin-survives plot. “What if the slut fights the killer and every orgasm she has makes her stronger?” she suggests.
Half Magic’s dialogue can sometimes be heavy-handed, but its over-the-top nature helps make the movie fun. It’s refreshing to see a comedy centered around friendship between three very different women, especially one that manages to make points about topics like sexism in Hollywood and purity culture.
photo: Half Magic
Half Magic is in select theaters, VOD and digital HD this Friday, Feb. 23.
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