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Monday, April 12, 2021

Now showing: The Prom (PG)

Luke McWilliams gives his review of the 2020 musical comedy film, The Prom, starring Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman.

On Broadway, stage stars Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden) receive a scathing review of their new show, stating that the stars are self-obsessed, unlikeable narcissists. In Indiana, high school student Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman) is banned from attending the prom with her closeted girlfriend Alyssa (Ariana DeBose). The news hits the fallen stars who see Emma’s plight as the perfect PR stunt to get back into the spotlight!

Whereas Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt) was a quaint, awkward and sweet examination of asking a girl to a formal, The Prom is unabashedly big and in-your-face with over-the-top performances and extravagant song and dance numbers which celebrate its stage show origins.

The established stars put in gleaned, professional performances, but it is newcomer Pellman who completely steals the show: a young girl who just wants to go to prom with her girlfriend who is terrified of coming out lest she experiences the wrath of the school and her mother (Kerry Washington) – the head of the PTA! The young cast bring a zest and effervescence reminiscent of TV’s Glee, and serve as the heart of the story, giving the older characters something to learn about life, love and the strength needed to be true to oneself. It is a pity then that the songs are uninspired, and the established characters come across as laden.

Verdict: A powerhouse effort that wanes when the spotlight drifts from its young stars. 2.5 stars. The Prom is screening at Dendy Cinemas.

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