The Prom

Posted on December 10, 2020 at 5:44 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, suggestive/sexual references, and language
Profanity: Mild language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Some drinking
Violence/ Scariness: Tense confrontations
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie, homophobia
Date Released to Theaters: December 11, 2020

Copyright Netflix 2020
Irving Berlin was right. There’s no people like show people. And no one knows and loves show people as much as other show people, which is why “The Prom” is 20 percent sly satire and 80 percent love letter to the craziness that goes into entertaining audiences.

“The Prom” was a mildly successful Broadway musical about Broadway stars who want to restore their reputations after their new show has a disastrous opening night (a musical about Franklin and Eleonor Roosevelt). They see an injustice on Twitter. A small Indiana high school has cancelled its prom rather than allow a student to bring a same-sex date. And so, not even sure where Indiana is or what it is, they get on a bus, sure that their Broadway luster and can-do spirit will teach those people in flyover country about respect and inclusion. “This will be the biggest thing that’s happened in Indiana since..whatever the last big thing that happened in Indiana was,” one declares.

As you might guess, the Hoosiers are not impressed, even when Broadway leading lady Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) pulls out her two Tony Awards, which she apparently has on hand at all times, in case someone does not who Who She Is. The high school student at the center of the fuss is Emma (a star-making turn from Jo Ellen Pellman) has a bigger problem than the prom; the girl who would be her date is the daughter of the woman fighting to prevent same-sex couples from attending (Kerry Washington as Mrs. Greene). Caught in the middle is the high school principal, Tom Hawkins, who happens to be a fan of Broadway musicals, especially those featuring Dee Dee (Keegan-Michael Key).

The story adds some unexpected sweetness and reconciliation but really the entire production is just a change to have some fun with some inside theater humor and put on a big, colorful, splashy show with a bunch of Tony and Oscar-winners. Streep has a blast as a larger-than-life personality who is only at home on stage. After letting down someone who genuinely cares for her, the only way she can apologize is to reprise one of her career’s signature numbers. Andrew Rannells (a Tony Award winner for “Book of Mormon”) has a huge musical number with local kids in a shopping mall. Nicole Kidman plays the kind of chorus line hoofer who goes from show to show but never makes it into a lead role, and James Corden is a gay man who sees Emma’s problems in very personal terms because his parents rejected him after he came out.

You don’t have to understand the relative status of a Tony vs. a Drama Desk award or remember which musical had the most performances before “Cats” to sit back and enjoy the good-hearted fun, clever lyrics (by Chad Beguelin), and the jubilant dance numbers choreographed by Casey Nicholaw. It most important message is not inclusion but about the power of art itself, especially big, splashy, energetic, colorful musical, to bring us together and heal what hurts.

Parents should know that the theme of this movie is homophobia and inclusion. It includes some sexual humor and some sexual references, some alcohol, and some strong language.

Family discussion: What would you say to Mrs. Greene? What’s your favorite musical?

If you like this, try: “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Footloose,” “Hairspray,” and “High School Musical”

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Coming Soon from Ryan Murphy “Prom” — With a Dream Cast Including Streep, Rannells, Key, Awkwafina

Posted on June 27, 2019 at 8:00 am

I am so excited about this! Ryan Murphy (“Glee,” “Versace,” “Nip/Tuck”) is bringing the Tony-nominated musical “Prom” to television with an all-star cast including Oscar-winner Meryl Streep, Tony-winner Andrew Rannells (“Girls,” “Book of Mormom”), “Key and Peele” star Keegan-Michael Key, “Oceans 8” and “Crazy Rich Asians” star Awkwafina, and pop princess Ariana Grande.

The story is about Broadway stars running away from terrible reviews of their new show who decide to get some good publicity by providing support to a girl who has been forbidden to bring another girl as her date to the school prom. Here’s a look at the show on Broadway.

Deadline writes:

Streep will play Dee Dee Allen, a two-time Tony winner who teams with Corden’s Barry Glickman in a flop musical about Eleanor Roosevelt. After career-ending reviews, they decide — along with Broadway babies Kidman as Angie Dickinson and Rannells (Book of Mormon) as Trent Oliver — to champion a cause to rehabilitate their careers. They find one in Emma, a high school senior in Indiana who isn’t allowed to go to her prom because she’s gay. A nationwide search led by casting director Alexa Fogel is on to fill the role of Emma.

Grande will star as Alyssa, a popular daughter of the head of the PTA. Awkwafina will play the group’s publicist Ms. Sheldon, and Key will play Streep’s love interest and Emma’s ally, Principal Hawkins.

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Musical Television

Prom

Posted on April 28, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Less engrossing than a Clearasil commercial and more synthetic than a Rebecca Black video, “Prom” is Disney’s attempt to launch a new generation of tween idols with a wholesome confection about a high school dance. But the buoyant energy of “High School Musical”-style song and dance numbers is sorely missed and some sweet moments are not enough to make up for a thin storyline featuring too many inexperienced young performers. Anyone over the age of 12 will want to sit out this dance.

It begins three weeks before prom in a suburban high school.  The girls are excited about being asked.  The boys are terrified about asking them.  Apparently, even the ask itself is now a montage-worthy event, with high expectations for drama and creativity from the guys.  One romantic invitation features candles in the shed filled with party decorations, igniting a fire that destroys all of the “Starry Night” decorations.This is devastating for Nova (Aimee Teegarden), class president and all-around achiever who is determined that the prom will be “a perfect moment.” Jesse (Thomas McDonell), the school rebel (he has long hair, a motorcycle, and a bad attitude), points out that at the very worst, “the boys and girls of the school have been robbed of the opportunity to stand around and drink punch.  Lower the flags to half mast.”  The principal orders him to work with Nova to make new decorations, and inevitably, a less combustible set of sparks will fly.

The prom creates stress and drama for other seniors as well.  Two popular couples struggle with complications that go beyond the selection of limo and cummerbund.  The top candidates for prom queen and king are Jordan (Kylie Bunbury) and her boyfriend Tyler (DeVaughn Nixon), the lacrosse team captain and a playah off the field as well.  Mei (Yin Chang) does not know how to tell her devoted boyfriend since middle school that she wants to go to Parsons in New York to study design instead of to the University of Michigan with him.  The prom also gives shy, gawky Lloyd (Nicolas Braun) his last chance to ask a girl – any girl — out, with encouragement from his stepsister, Tess (a warm and engaging Raini Rodriguez).  And a pretty sophomore (Danielle Campbell) must choose between her awkward, music-mad lab partner and a smoother guy who may not be trustworthy.  And they squeeze in two characters from a Disney television series as underclassmen for cross-promotion and the already-announced sequel.

But never fear!  The over-packed plot still leaves time for the inevitable trying-on-dresses montage, a parent who has to learn to trust his daughter’s judgment, and a last-minute arrival of a back-lit dream date.

Parents will be relieved that everything stays reassuringly PG.  A character who would be a stoner in a PG-13 high school movie merely chomps on the candies that give him his nickname and talks about the girl he is bringing to the prom in a manner that sounds vaguely, well, vague.  And parents will appreciate the portrayal of supportive friends and moms and some nice lessons about self-respect, loyalty, and moving beyond shallow fantasies of “the perfect moment.” But with a dozen main characters it feels more like a series of Disney Channel sketches than stories.  Its effort to underplay the fantasy of the “perfect moment” prom is lost in its own focus on one magical evening.  A complaint from one girl about being required to read Ethan Frome is the only suggestion in the film that school is for any purpose other than college applications and finding prom dates.  Like a discount prom corsage, it looks pretty and wilts fast.

(more…)

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