Stop Being Boring, ‘The Prom’ is Really Good

I love a musical moment. I don’t have any singing talents, but group dance numbers and harmonies really get me grooving. Whether it’s Les Misérables or Six, there are very few musicals I would turn my nose up to.

Just recently, the film adaption of the Broadway musical The Prom was released on Netflix, and it was a solid highlight of 2020. Unlike the majority of recent (and upcoming) movie musical adaptions (Cats, West Side Story, In the Heights), The Prom didn’t have an extremely successful Broadway run. It lasted only 9 months and received no major award wins. However, it had a fun cast album, a universally funny and emotional plot, and a solid fan base which inspired Glee creator, Ryan Murphy, to transform the show into a feature film.

For a speedy rundown of the plot – Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) is a student at a high school in Indiana where, in response to her wanting to bring her girlfriend as a date to the prom, the PTA (mainly Kerry Washington) have decided to cancel the prom. In New York, a group of washed-up Broadway actors (Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden, and Andrew Rannells) are desperately looking to get some positive press, and so decide to head to Indiana to help reinstate the prom and allow Emma to bring her girlfriend, Alyssa (Ariana De Bose), with her. The whole thing is cheesy, bright, and ridiculously uplifting.

If I’m being honest, I was slightly concerned about if this was going to be any good. Despite the stellar cast list, The Prom is a naturally cheesy musical, and this very often doesn’t translate well to the screen. However, this adaption makes use of the cheesiness and doesn’t hide from how ridiculously loud and nonsensical the plot is. Ryan Murphy really said: “Yeah this is dumb, but you’re all going to enjoy it” (he didn’t but I can imagine that he did).

In general, people love to nit-pick films (I am sometimes said people). Finding plot holes and rolling my eyes at ridiculous scenarios brings me endless joy, however, sometimes it’s nice to give in to the cinematic experience and accept the insanity that are flash mobs in shopping centres! This film makes perfect use of this. With the messiness of 2020, it was actually extremely enjoyable to remove myself from the normal world and live in this (extremely) loud and glittery cinematic world for a couple of hours. 

Of course, with most musicals, there are some blatantly obvious flaws of this film. First of all, it’s extremely optimistic and highly unrealistic. It took the prom committee at my school approximately 9 long months to plan our prom, and a bunch of people in this film managed to put together a show-stopping extravaganza in a day? And suddenly everyone is just not homophobic anymore because they all had a cute sing song and dance outside of B&M last week? Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t work that way and scenes like this really triggered my fight or flight response. 

However, these minor questions aren’t the worst of this film, James Corden is. As a society, we need to stop casting James Corden in musicals. Sure, he’s got some nice pipes and is funny (ish), but he’s not very good in the musical setting. In this role, James proved that he probably isn’t very talented at all but is probably a massively insensitive and egoistic man. His portrayal of Barry Glickman, a gay Broadway actor, played into every offensive stereotype you could think of when planning to portray a gay man, and it was all done with no thought put into it. I’m pretty sure his plans before playing this role were: if I speak in a high-pitched voice, act extremely flamboyant, and do some jazz hands, it’ll be good, right? Well, no. It was really bad. Not only do we need to just stop casting James Corden in movie musicals, we really need to start casting LGBTQ+ actors for LGBTQ+ roles (the same goes for stopping the casting of neurotypical individuals to play autistic characters @Sia). Tituss Burgess was ROBBED of this role, but Ryan Murphy did cast Matthew Morrison in Glee so we can’t expect the world from him. 

In conclusion, The Prom is worth your time. We’re in a global parallelogram, what else have you got to do with your night?