The Prom shows two completely different sides of America – the glitz and glamour of Broadway and the reality of what happens in a small, relatively homophobic town in Indiana and somehow, both sides are thrown together and give us this chaotic musical.
Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden) have a “crisis’ on their hands – their brand new Broadway show has closed on opening night so along with Sheldon Saperstein (Kevin Chamberlin), Trent Oliver (Andrew Rannells) and Angie Dickinson (Nicole Kidman) so the self absorbed ‘celebrities’ decide to become a activists instead of pursuing their dead-end showbiz career any further.
But, the real story of this musical turned Netflix film is the story of Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman) – the campaign that the five decide to help. All Emma wants to do is take her girlfriend to prom which is unable to do due to the head of the PTA (Kerry Washington).
The PTA decided to ban prom as they wanted one that is seriously considered old fashioned these days – they wanted it “only for normal people” but little did they know, Emma’s girlfriend Alyssa (Ariana DeBose) is the daughter of the most homphobic person in the film – the head of the PTA aka the person leading the campaign.
The first few acts of the film are great – you get introduced to the slightly lovable, slightly annoying (and extremely stereotypical American – someone please tell James Corden to never do that accent again). Before you know it, you’re an hour into the film with over an hour left to go, the prom has already happened and you can’t help but wonder what meaningless mayhem will be next to occur.
At first the songs seem exciting – they match the chaos of the storyline and all of the big personality characters but it does seem a bit too extra. It’s almost like the producers have watched a few too many musicals and chick flicks and forgot about what really matters in the film – the original storyline.
It does show some of the horrific things that members of the LGBTQ+ community still have to go through, even in 2020. The homophobic abuse that both girls face in the film, and by their own parents is soul crushing to watch. The fact that Emma got kicked out of her home and disowned by her parents whilst Alyssa is too scared to tell her mother the reality of her sexuality is the reminder that this is still going on that everyone needs.
All the hardships that both girls face have seemed to be pushed to one side by the tragic ending. It’s almost like the producers got bored at this point and decided to go for the most cliche ending going. Alyssa’s mother is ‘cured of her homophobia’ at the end of the film when she sees the girls finally kiss – this is something that doesn’t happen in the real world and it’s a bit concerning to paint this picture.
By the end of this ‘uplifting’ film, you are just glad it’s finally finished (that’s if you haven’t already turned it off that is).
Words by Izzy Hawksworth.