Film Review: “The Prom” (2020)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

It’s quite sad that we have to watch films like “The Prom” to understand the importance of accepting other people for who they are and what they want to be. We can’t deny someone’s right to be extremely religious, have unorthodox preferences or love someone of the same gender. Love is love, respect is respect, and honor is honor. We can’t discriminate one from another. We can’t create one rule and then go against it because that’s not how it’s supposed to be; it’s not humane.

Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden) were getting ready to celebrate the opening night of their new Broadway show, “Eleanor”, when acclaimed critics just destroyed it in the papers. Devastated and upset, the two are joined by two other actors, Trent Oliver (Andrew Rannells), working as a waiter, and Angie Dickinson (Nicole Kidman), who just quit the show “Chicago”.  Thinking what to do to reclaim their fame back, Angie finds on Twitter their perfect target, Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman) whose prom at school got canceled by the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) due to Emma’s desire to bring her girlfriend to the event.

The film opens with Kerry Washington’s Mrs Greene, who announces to the local journalist in Edgewater, Indiana, that the prom won’t be happening due to the violation of the set of rules drafted by the PTA. The rule in questioning? If a student chooses to bring a date, they must be of the opposite sex. A minute later we’re shown the fall of Dee Dee Allen and Barry Glickman through hilarious critic reviews, and how that literally ruins their highly anticipated show. While they seem unlikable because of their narcissistic personalities and how they behave, the two were ready to give up. But when they hear about Emma Nolan’s story on Twitter, they decide to use it to their own advantage, helping Emma in the hope that their attempt will help gain positive publicity for themselves.

Directed by Ryan Murphy, “The Prom” is a highly entertaining musical the kind of which must be made more often. With its concept, it helps the audience to acknowledge differences in perspectives and be less judgemental. Beautiful songs and the performance of the cast make it worth the watch. Meryl Streep has already proven that she is an actor of the highest caliber only few can reach. Nicole Kidman, perhaps, is the only one who matches Streep’s skills. Jo Ellen Pellman, as a sweet gay girl who desires to have her prom, is truly mesmerizing. Kerry Washington as a conservative mother and PTA member is impressive despite not being much in the film, however, makes a big difference as soon as she begins singing.

Few things in the film do not seem to work, mainly, because of James Corden. Of course, as a talented actor, he brings lots of depth to any project. However, “The Prom” is not one of them. The star of Moulin Rouge” and “Nine”, Nicole Kidman had only one shot in the film to showcase her singing ability and dancing. And that will anger you throughout because of her very little screen time. Her character dreams of portraying Roxy Hart on Broadway and one particular scene proves that if Kidman gets cast as Roxy Hart, she will collect all the possible awards.

As for “The Prom”, it’s indeed a charming tale of a narrow-minded society and people who are still stuck in a world being led by ancient traditions. The story is about courage, being what we want to be, and be loved for who we are. Emma has the right to be accepted by society. She is smart, beautiful and determined to make her own way towards success. But because of the help of four unfortunate actors, she finds her voice and helps them to find theirs too. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved when they come to realize there are more people in need to be cuddled, hugged and listened; people like Emma, that are still in hiding when they should not be, yet still are. But that’s the unfortunate reality of the situation – the chance that actors from New York will actually come to rescue them from despair is unlikely to materialize in real life.

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