'The Prom' Review With Casey
The Prom is a movie musical that premiered on Netflix on December 11th and is adapted from a Broadway musical first produced in New York City in 2018. The story follows four narcissist Broadway celebrities who travel to small town Indiana to publicly support a lesbian teenager who is banned from taking her girlfriend to her high school prom. Celebrity activism for LGBT youth guarantees positive publicity! Right?!
The Prom is filled with sequins, color washes, glitter, and choreographed ensemble dances. And as a plucky musical, it does something I didn't think was possible.....it made me bored! Yes, the singing is great, and the main story presents an important message of love and inclusion. But the pageantry of musical theater so ridiculously outweighs the actual emotions and believability of the story, it's far too laborious to connect with any actor's performance in a meaningful way (I guess using big stars like Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and James Corden at the expense of the Broadway actors who originated the roles on stage is not enough to keep this musical from collapsing onto itself). Some of the snappy editing tried to keep the film grounded in reality with certain songs jumping from an elaborate Broadway stage to the "regular world" settings of a high school gym or principal's office (taking some influence from the 2002 movie musical, Chicago). But that was the only element that made The Prom interesting.
Directed by Ryan Murphy, who created the teen musical series Glee that ran on TV from 2009 - 2015, The Prom felt like an elongated episode of Glee, but with schizophrenic pacing and an overzealous passion to fit as many songs (and weeping dramatic moments) as possible into the 130 minute timeframe. This film was so imbalanced, and so tonally capricious, I couldn't figure out if The Prom was trying to be a heartfelt and sincere valentine to LGBT outcasts or just a magnified gag on musical theater tropes. If the film was trying to both, it ended up as a mess trying to complete far too many jazz squares.