If you’re a fan of Ryan Murphy style (‘American Horror Story’, ‘Pose’, ‘Hollywood’, and his most recent Netflix series ‘Ratched’), the new Netflix movie “The Prom” based on the Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical of the same name, created by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, that proposes to discuss and debate about a current and necessary matter: acceptance of LGBTQ+ community, it will be an “irresistible dish” to taste.
The plot presents us Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman), a gay high school student in Indiana, that she wants to take her girlfriend Alyssa (Ariana DeBose) to her prom. The bigots in charge of the school lead by Alyssa’s mother – who has no idea her daughter is the mysterious Emma’s girlfriend- are against a same-sex couple attending the event. Meanwhile, in New York, a musical about Eleanor Roosevelt starring the Broadway diva Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden), has just been slated by the New York Times. The review is such a hitjob that the entire musical has to close. So Dee Dee and Barry motivated by their friends – Angie Dickinson (Nicole Kidman), a chorus girl and an unemployed actor who works as a barman (Andrew Rannells) decide to head over to Indiana to fight for Emma’s right to be, as they put it, a ‘little lesbian’, seeking for publicity by refashioning themselves as celebrity activists, they hope to launder their tarnished reputations.
In Indiana, Dee Dee flirts the principal of Emma’s school (Keegan-Michael Key), who’s been a fan of her work for decades. In between tedious musical numbers, the films’ characters are pleasingly rounded out: Barry, we learn, had a rough time coming out just like Emma does. He has carried a trauma since he was a teenager in his high school prom because of being gay, and the star Dee Dee has been mauled by a divorce from a man who only wanted her for her money.
Meryl Streep shines triumphantly playing the role of an egocentric and narcissistic celebrity who has a poor and sad past in a conservative hometown like Emma. Unfortunately, Nicole Kidman is underused in this production. The role is too small for her talent. She deserves to play a lead role, not just a frustrated chorus girl. Despite the secondary role, she performs shiningly in every scene.
Ryan Murphy made a huge mistake in the casting of James Corden as the musical’s gay male lead character. The comedian doesn’t convince as a gay who in the character’s own words, is “as gay as a bucket of wigs”. The result sees Corden camp it up to the point of being regressive and offensive, hitting every gay stereotype along the way.
The movie tells a storyline which Barry Glickman ends up having the closest connection to Emma due to his backstory of also not going to the prom with the person he wanted to, however, with no subtlety in Corden’s performance, this emotional core of “The Prom” falls entirely flat. Corden wasted the opportunity he got to change his bad image of hammy actor. Instead, he created offensive and false acting that undervalued and outraged the LGBTQ+ community and the movie premise.
On the other hand, in her debut movie, Pellman who plays Emma is extraordinary and holds her own against the ‘starrier’ cast members when sharing scenes with the likes of Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman. When she’s left to do it on her own, Pellman makes the emotion work, such as in tearjerker ‘Unruly Heart’ and her opening number ‘Just Breathe’. She shares strong chemistry with her colleague Ariana DeBose who plays Emma’s girlfriend Alyssa.
The Prom is a cringe musical movie that becomes interesting because it assumes its own cringe feature with extravagant performances, colourful wardrobe and art , but it’s also because of the sensitive and relevant way the narrative deal with the LGBTQ+ acceptance and inclusiveness.
It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s an adorable entertainment!
Rate: ⚝ ⚝ ⚝
Photos by: Netflix