If you thought Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) would easily be the longest film title of the year, then wait til you see The Prom (and the Focus Pulling Broadway Stars Who Are Undeservingly Gifted the Majority of the Screen Time Even Though Their Stories Are Definitely Not the Main Reason Anyone Is Watching this Movie).
Basic Synopsis: Four fading Broadway stars decide to drive to a small town in Indiana to champion a high school girl’s right to take her girlfriend to the prom because it’ll help them rebrand themselves as selfless and compassionate in the public eye.
Favorite Line: “I am as gay as a bucket of wigs. A bucket of them!”
Brief Thoughts: With a synopsis like that I am as shocked as you are that this movie based on a Broadway show ended up prioritizing the Broadway stars’ stories over the high schooler and her girlfriend. I’d honestly go back and rewatch the film to tally up the minutes for each just to prove a point, but you’d have to drag me kicking and screaming through the film that had me checking the timestamp more times than I can count. To put it simply, I couldn’t care less about the thespians. Seeing as their disaffecting egocentrism works for the first part of the film as they rush into the small town to make a show of saving the day I’ll let it slide up to a point, but once a certain heart wrenching moment happens partway through the film all grandiose pomp and circumstance should be pushed to the side, and the actors should truly invest themselves in the story of this ostracized girl, putting their stories on hold.
And yet, this doesn’t happen. We don’t get a tonal shift as this issue becomes real to the stars, and unfortunately the film continues to prioritize their journeys over the two girls at the center of it all. They’re still somehow the peripheral characters in their own stories, which is a real shame because the scenes with Emma and Alyssa are the most affecting. Whereas the rest just feels so forced as plots are poorly woven into the overall narrative, awarding completely unearned resolutions to everyone as the film brushes the often unresolvable messiness of these stories under the rug (yay for bigotry being solved during the course of one song that uses an argument I’ve seen fail online repeatedly!). I get that this is a fun musical and the allure of sunshine and rainbows is strong, I just wish the film didn’t feel like it glossed over the truth of these stories.
Favorite Songs: Jo Ellen Pellman’s “Just Breathe” and Ariana DeBose’s “Alyssa Green”
Why Is This Character Here?: Sorry Nicole Kidman and Andrew Rannells, but I honestly think this show/film would work so much better had there only been two Broadway stars and not four. Not only would that free up time to better evenly distribute the scenes between the performers and the high schoolers, but the relationships developing during the course of the film would be further supported. Take the scene between Kidman’s Angie and Emma: it makes zero sense that a high schooler would be finding comfort in a complete stranger in one of the worst moments of her life, whereas she already has formed a bond with Corden’s Barry. So why wasn’t the scene given to him? Better yet, give it to the girl’s super supportive and loving grandma played by Mary Kay Place, who is unfortunately very blink and you’ll miss her.
Final Thoughts: I was hoping James Corden’s involvement was going to be the only thing working against The Prom for me; unfortunately there’s so much more that kept me from enjoying the vast majority of the film.