Starring: Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman
Director: Ryan Murphy
Running Time: 131 mins
The Prom is an American film about a quartet of narcissistic Broadway actors who travel to a small Indiana town to help a gay teenage girl attend prom after she is blocked by the local community, but the actors’ motives aren’t as benevolent as they seem.
I think I’ve struck upon one of my new biggest guilty pleasures. For all its faults, a simplistic story, terrible pacing, and never being quite as ideologically pure as it purports to be, I couldn’t help but loving The Prom. With all the vibrant, show-stopping power of a big Broadway production, it’s an enormously enjoyable bit of escapism that put a massive smile on my face.
And as far as I can tell, that is exactly what this movie is meant to be. I’ll say that I’ve never been a big fan of the movie musical, and know pretty much nothing about this as a Broadway production, but sometimes there’s nothing better than a belting musical which goes all out at every moment, even if it’s never quite as deep as it really wants to be.
Narratively, it’s fair to say that The Prom is a nightmare at times, with wildly inconsistent pacing that sees the main plot almost stop only twenty minutes in, and an often infuriatingly simplistic and occasionally arrogant perspective on the social issues that it’s dealing with.
But, as far as delivering huge, smiling Broadway excitement goes, there are few movie musicals which can match The Prom. The songs are a whole lot of fun, the singing is spectacular across the board, the dance choreography is brilliant, and the film soars in a blur of gorgeous colours.
It’s so bold and out there that even the biggest musical cynics (myself included) can’t resist the show-stopping energy of The Prom. It admittedly takes some getting used to in a brash musical opening, but soon, the songs prove the highlight of what could have otherwise been a very middling story.
Yes, The Prom is trying to say something more, but it really fails to do so with a screenplay that runs out of steam within the first act, with only its upbeat and positive attitude and a little bit of self-deprecating wit keeping things captivating throughout.
Plus, the cast plays a big part in this movie’s surprising likability. While the likes of James Corden are a little much and Nicole Kidman (who barely says a word) seems to add little to the movie, others like Meryl Streep – who goes all-out here – Keegan Michael-Key and the delightful Jo Ellen Pellman bring so much energy to this movie that it’s difficult to dislike.
The characters are admittedly a little one-dimensional, although the mockery of virtue-signalling, narcissistic celebrities early on is a highlight. Later on, however, the stars are put into rather confined roles in pairs or little groups, and don’t really have the opportunity to showcase what their characters are really about.
In short, it’s fair to say that The Prom is no masterpiece of screenwriting, and it even fails to make use of what could be riveting and emotional themes. However, with bold, show-stopping energy that even the biggest musical cynics can’t resist, the movie is a delightful, vibrant and bold bit of escapism that’s sure to make you smile. I had a lot of fun with it, and it’s a big new guilty pleasure of mine, so that’s why I’m giving The Prom a 7.8 overall.