This week I’m watching the film Prom. Three guesses as to what that’s about.
Prom is the story of a bunch of kids who go to prom. Prom, guys! Prom.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves here, though. Before prom can occur, we need to watch everybody prepare for prom in their own high schooly ways. This happens through a large number of interconnected stories about a number of forgettable characters. It’s kind of like Crash, but more watchable (Oscar-winning, not auto accident fucking). The most prominent character is Nova (Aimee Teegarden), a goody two-shoes who spends all her time creating decorations for the gymnasium for prom.
Forget Nova Prime, she’s Nova Prom.
Sadly, in addition to being beautiful, her decorations are also flammable, and they all burn down during a couple’s clumsily candlelit make-out session.
Before I go on with Nova’s story, I should probably mention some of the myriad other characters in the film. There’s a smart girl (Yin Chang) who wants to go to an awesome school, but who is afraid it will upset her sickeningly attentive boyfriend (Jared Kusnitz) who wants her to go to the college he’s going to. What will she do?
There are a couple of obnoxious music kids (Cameron Monaghan and Nolan Sotillo) who are essentially just Rob and Barry from High Fidelity. One of them has a crush on some girl (Danielle Campbell) who is interested in some jock (DeVaughn Nixon) who is two-timing his steady (Kylie Bunbury). Such drama!
In lieu of finding a screen shot of all those people, here is a shot of none of them.
Then there’s some sad guy (Nicholas Braun) who can’t find a date at all. Probably because he’s super creepy.
Anyhow, back to Nova. She falls for a bad boy with a motorbike (Thomas McDonell). But her dad (Dean Norris) tries to ruin things. But then they get back together. Then they prom.
Much is made in the movie about how prom is the one moment when high schoolers put aside their differences and accept each other for who they are. It’s as close to a message as the movie gets as it explores these little slice of high school life vignettes. For one night, everyone is cool to each other. Aww. Okay, but why can’t people not be shitty to each other the rest of the school year? I mean, is this peace and goodwill replicable? Can we learn to celebrate prom the whole year through? These are the questions these asshats should be asking, instead of just mooning over how nice their gym looks.
Admittedly, it is a very nice gym.
I think the reason no one talks about making every day as magical as prom is because the narration is lying to us. Nobody’s problems have gone away; they’ve just been covered up by the novelty of wearing a tux and possibly some spiked punch. Hell, the biggest asshole in the school gets crowned prom king, and then gets publicly shamed. That’s not magical. The sad guy who couldn’t get a date may be happily hanging out with his stepsister, but tomorrow he’s still going to be the guy who left a creepy prom invitation on that girl’s locker. And that’s just the stuff that was able to be shown in a PG movie. Half of these kids are going to be drunkenly fucking in the back of their cars later.
Image not found.
Anyhow, there is no magic to prom. It’s just an occasion that our culture (this movie included) imbues with a false sense of grandeur. There’s no day or time of year that automatically makes people happier. It’s all in our collective heads. But hey, I guess it beats not having a fake day to be happy on. Hooray? Merry Christmas, everybody!
WHY DON’T PEOPLE LIKE IT?:
You know, Prom isn’t strictly speaking a bad movie. Nothing mind-warpingly terrible happens in it, and it seems to have been somewhat competently made. The problem is, that it is made to appeal to a very niche audience. If you like movies where high schoolers get upset about things that will cease to matter to them almost immediately as soon as they enter college/the workforce, then this film is for you. You probably also saw Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, and High School Musical 3. That’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re not that type of person, however, you probably found this film to be terribly boring and forgettable. You also probably rated it very harshly on IMDb, hence its presence on this list.
Adorable or cloying? You decide!
MOST REGRETTABLE MOMENT:
There’s a point where brooding biker Jesse Richter loses his tempter and beats the shit out of a guy who was rude to his mom a while back. It’s a dark moment, and has its place in the film. We’re seeing the psychological turmoil the character is going through, and hey, it’s nice seeing a Disney movie get real for once. But… it’s a little troubling that nobody in the movie addresses how frightening this unprovoked attack is. Everyone just walks it off, like it’s no big deal that our main character just walked up to a guy and socked him in the face out of nowhere. People just randomly attack people, I guess.
It’s just a part of growing up, right?
Prom is a thoroughly average movie. There’s nothing outstanding in it, but it’s competently made. See it if you like prom movies, I guess?
Into the Woods (2014)