The 400-Word Review: The Prom
By Sean Collier
December 11, 2020
Trust me: You’re better off watching “The Prom.”
Yes, it’s awards season — and one in which more of the year’s most lauded and soon-to-be-feted films are available for home viewing than ever before. There will be time for those weightier pictures. At some point this weekend — amid the cold, the short days, the pandemic and the sheer exhaustion this year has visited upon us all — you should probably watch “The Prom.”
You should watch “The Prom” because it is a satisfying confection of a film, a piece of candy that tastes exactly like you think it will. You should watch “The Prom” because it is pleasant, affirming and cheerful. You should watch “The Prom” because it contains some famous people being talented and likable (and, in fact, contains some non-famous people being even more talented and likable).
You should watch “The Prom.”
If you need more information — and I don’t recommend it, you should turn off your brain and watch “The Prom” — the film is an adaptation of a popular Broadway musical of the same name, directed by hitmaker Ryan Murphy in full “Glee” mode. Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman), a high-schooler in small-town Indiana, has reluctantly become a cultural flashpoint; her desire to take her girlfriend, Alyssa (Ariana DeBose), to the titular dance has run up against school policy and midwestern mores. A group of struggling Broadway performers (Nicole Kidman, James Corden, Meryl Streep and Andrew Rannals) stumble upon Emma’s story; in need of a public-relations boost, they bus off to the Hoosier state to protest.
Do they simultaneously learn to not capitalize on human beings for fame while also developing genuine love and affection for Emma? Of course. Does Emma respond good-naturedly to their appearance but gently insist on handling the problem her way? Of course. Do all involved learn life lessons while changing the hearts and minds of the initially reluctant but eventually amiable townsfolk? Of course.
It is not that “The Prom” is above criticism; there are moments and characters that don’t work, and the film is a bit over-long. The weak areas (many involving Corden’s character) are more than balanced, however, by a lovely, charming performance by Pellman, in a star-making turn.
More importantly: It’s just pleasant. The songs and sets are lovely. It’s a charming time. There are better things you could do, sure, but you should watch “The Prom.”
My Review: 8/10
“The Prom” is streaming on Netflix.