The Prom (2020)
Well, this was a fun way to (almost) wrap up my reviews for 2020.
The Prom (2020) is about a teenager named Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman), who wants to go to her high school prom with her girlfriend. However, the all-powerful PTA will not stand for this, and so the whole prom is cancelled. Wow. What an effective way to turn a cohort of peers against one student...if they weren't against her already. Oh, and by the by, this has actually happened...like, in real life. I'm not joking. Look, it would be pretty far-fetched to say that The Prom is a true story, but it's certainly fair to say that it's based on events that actually happened.
The Prom (2020) is about four Broadway stars: Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep), Barry Glickman (James Corden), Angie Dickinson (Nicole Kidman) and Trent Oliver (Andrew Rannells). Dee Dee and Barry, who receive a less than savoury review in the New York Times, end up having their show closed on opening night, and decide to fix their PR problem, by advocating for a cause. With help from Angie, who has been stuck in the chorus line for twenty years, and Trent, a Julliard graduate who is currently working at a bar, (and not to mention, a bus full of Godspell cast members), they head off to Indiana to confront a high school PTA, after reading about the cancellation of a prom on Twitter.
Yes, you're right, you did read that paragraph twice, because this film does a lot of things at once. And while I prefer the former plot, there is way too much screen time for the latter plot. (I honestly never thought that there would come a time when I would opt for a plot about teen romance and high school drama...but here we all are).
If you've taken more than a few seconds to look at the posters, you'll already know that this is a colourful film. Colour blocking is used in the costumes from start to finish, And whilst some of the actual sets might appear neutral, they quickly lose all neutrality during the dance numbers, and become just as colourful as the costumes. I quite enjoyed it. It makes for a very fun time. It's reminiscent of Broadway musicals themselves, and I'm sure you need no reminding that The Prom (2020), is actually an adaptation of a stage musical. Murphy brings those vibes to the screen through his use of colour, which, as I've already said, is a lot of fun. (Additionally, as I was watching, it was hard not to think of the Rainbow flag, and though I'm not sure that this was the intention, it did, in some ways, strengthen my emotional connection to the film).
In terms of the musical numbers, The Prom (2020) has everything you'd expect from a musical about a bunch of teenagers. There are plenty of cheesy, fun, upbeat songs. Fun. Fun is the word. I keep using it. Fun! I will say that I didn't love the magical transformation that occurs after the 'Love thy Neighbour' number. Wow! The homophobic teens in Indiana have been cured because they sung a song! ...But to be fair, this feels like more of a script issue, and this is a musical...and that's how musical logic works? I will say, that the song that most took me by surprise, was 'We Look to You', sung by Keegan-Michael Key. Sure, Pellman had plenty of songs that hit me in the feels, but Key's performance...like I said, I wasn't expecting it, and I sure enjoyed it.
The Prom loses massive points in my book when it comes to some of the performances. I'll say it plainly: some actors lack consistency in their delivery. They hit me in the feels one minute, and have me wincing the next. This obviously doesn't extend to the whole cast. There's plenty of talent here. But unfortunately, the talent of some was not enough to hide the variability of others.
Finally, anyone who's a fan of my reviews, knows how much I adore product placement. This shot of McDonald's (and James Corden...but mostly McDonald's) lasts for a whole nine seconds. That doesn't seem like a long time...but it's a very long time.
Product placement and inconsistent performances aside, this film wins some points back when Trent says, "They hated you with a burning passion stoked by centuries of intolerance and a lack of a drama program". As a drama major, I have to support any film that supports a drama program.
It won't make it onto my DVD shelves, but it's one that I might watch with my teenaged sister, the next time that she comes to visit.