Directed By: Joe Nussbaum
Starring: Aimee Teegarden, Thomas McDonell, DeVaughn Nixon, Danielle Campbell, Yin Chang, Jared Kusnitz, Nolan Sotillo, Cameron Monaghan, Kylie Bunbury, Joe Adler, Janelle Ortiz, Jonathan Keltz, Nicholas Braun, Raini Rodriguez, Jere Burns
When you specifically take note of a fly landing on a rice krispy treat, you know a film is lacking big time. Well, that rice krispy treat sat on a buffet table at a party in the movie Prom and the thought of a student eating that tainted treat was the most emotionally stimulating point of the film. Think that was intentional?
Who’s ready for that magical time of year, Prom? Well, these students are – kind of. It’s just about time for the big night and the occasion has these kids stressed out to the max. First, there’s Nova (Aimee Teegarden), the quintessential perfect student. On top of getting excellent grades and having a great reputation, Nova also heads up the prom committee. Everything is going swimmingly until someone accidently ignites the prom decorations. When Nova’s prom committee refuses to donate more time to rebuild, Principal Dunnan (Jere Burns) assigns the school bad boy, Jesse (Thomas McDonell), to help out despite both his and Nova’s resistance.
Meanwhile, hotshot jock Tyler (DeVaughn Nixon) is juggling two ladies, his long-time girlfriend, Jordan (Kylie Bunbury), and sophomore Simone (Danielle Campbell). While Simone is tempted to be with the big man on campus, she’s also developing feelings for a nerd her own age, Lucas (Nolan Sotillo). Lucas is thrilled to get some attention from his crush, but when he starts to neglect his best buddy, Corey (Cameron Monaghan), it causes a rift in their friendship. Mei is also struggling with the decision of weather or not to attend her dream school, Parsons, or to push that aside to follow her boyfriend, Justin (Jared Kusnitz), to Michigan. Then there’s Rolo, who, well, eats Rolos and takes supermodels to prom.
Drama much? Yes, just about any high school experience is packed with it, but to this extent? After a heavenly opening, Prom throws one disaster after the next your way. Then again, it’s tough to even look at these events as disasters. Is losing all of the prom decorations going to ruin your life? No. Are you going to be single forever if you don’t find a date? No. Will ditching your dream to go to college with your man alter your future? Well, maybe, but even in that subplot’s case, you never really sense a degree of urgency.
Prom is doused in Disney cheese and I don’t mean the movie studio type or even the TV channel variation for that matter. The film blows all of its problems out of proportion with tacky dialogue and a great deal of melodrama making it impossible for any of the characters’ situations to register on a realistic level. The reason movies like She’s All That works is because they don’t take themselves too seriously. When the senior class busts out into a choreographed dance, the film isn’t implying this actually happens at prom; it correlates with the tone of the film.
On the other hand, Prom believes it’s the real deal on every front, which has devastating results for both younger and older audiences. Thanks to Prom, pre-prom viewers will ultimately have their prom night dreams shattered. While everyone in the film does have troubles, eventually, their dreams come true. While I did have a fantastic prom experience myself, regardless, I can assure all of the high schoolers out there that the big night doesn’t go down like this in the least. As for adult moviegoers, well, Prom is a horrendous joke. In fact, students in high school might not even be able to take this film seriously. This is basically a film for middle school-aged kids who have some overly glorified view of high school and while Prom may satiate that dream for now, ultimately it’ll make having to crash back down to reality that much harder.
Then there’s just the fact that Prom is a bad movie. The piece is so poorly constructed, it’s impossible to connect to any of the characters. Very few scenes last more than three minutes and we’re bopping around from one subplot to the next so violently that by the time we return to a situation, it’s lost all meaning. The only scenario that barely manages to make an impact is that between Teegarden and McDonell, personally because Richter is rather nice to look at, and generally because they get the most screen time. Then again, that doesn’t imply that either put on decent performance. In fact, none of the cast does. Almost every single actor in Prom is merely playing their stereotype. The only two that manage to be slightly convincing are Nicholas Braun as Lloyd, the senior that can’t find a date, and Adler as Rolo who impressively manages to achieve a degree of sincerity with the least amount of dialogue.
Overall Prom isn’t really a movie for anyone. Adults will mock its juvenile misrepresentation of this magical night while younger audiences will be forever ruined expecting prom to actually be some picture perfect school dance with a water-spewing fountain. Yes, this movie is intended to be lighter fair for teens, but that doesn’t give director Joe Nussbaum and writer Katie Wech the right to further glorify an event that other movies have also set unrealistic expectations for. Prom really can be a fantastic conclusion to a student’s high school career, but not in this fashion. In order for this caricature-like representation to be successful, the filmmaker needs to take it as just that, an exaggeration. Instead, Prom fights to prove that this is really how the big night will be and not only will post-prom audiences roll their eyes, but there’s a good chance even younger moviegoers will catch onto the absurdity as well.
By Perri Nemiroff