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Netlix’s ‘The Prom’ review

Nathan Turoff, Student Government Reporter

Netflix’s “The Prom” shines with pizazz and the Broadway style, but it held short of greatness by a few glaring flaws. The movie musical is based on the Broadway musical of the same name and stars Merryl Streep, James Corden, and Nicole Kidman. It tells the story of a small town in Indiana which is refusing to let Emma, played by newcomer Jo Ellen Pellman, an LGBTQ+ girl, go to her high school prom with her girlfriend. Some disgraced Broadway stars see this as an opportunity to gain some good publicity and rally in support of her, but end up finding much more than a good image for themselves.

The film tells a very unique story that doesn’t shy away from covering hard subjects like prejudice and discrimination. It walks the fine line between too comedic and too dramatic, a feat very few movie adaptations of Broadway musicals can achieve. 

Speaking of Broadway, the soundtrack of this film is astounding, and arguably the best part of the whole film. Each and every song is heartfelt and/or just fun because of the incredible singing, no bad standouts, phenomenal choreography that doesn’t feel stiff or unrealistic, catchy tunes, and lyrics that are always  thought-provoking and/or hilarious. The songs translate incredibly well from stage to screenand still manage to give off that kind of energy usually exclusive to the stage. The lighting, while at times not necessarily realistic, still feels incredibly poignant and theatrical.

The characters of this film is where the movie falls flat. There are some incredible characters, with relatable motives and realistic actions, especially all of the teenagers. Kerry Washington plays the antagonist, a zealous PTA mother who will cross lines to get what she wants. She is the kind of opposing character that you love to hate, but still manages to find redemption after many hurdles. Andrew Rannells and Nicole Kidman play two of the four actors who rally behind Emma. However, they feel underdeveloped and underutilized compared to the other two actors, played by Streep and Corden. Rannells and Kidman each get only one real song to really shine, but when they do shine, they shine bright.

Meryl Streep plays the Tony winner Dee Dee Allen, the most prominent of the four actors. Coming off a critically panned performance with Barry Glickman, played by Corden, she literally bursts into the foreground of Emma’s struggle with her community, with all the jazz and vibrance one would expect of a pop diva. She starts off as incredibly selfish, but reforms as the movie progresses. This reformation is as a result of her love interest, played by Keegan-Michael Key.

Key plays the principal of the school, who supports Emma and is a big fan of Broadway and Dee Dee Allen. While I have come to often expect humor out of Key, this role is much more serious than what I usually see him in. He plays this kind of role incredibly well, showing his versatility as an actor beyond just comedy. In the film, his character is clearly a huge fan of Dee Dee Allen, recognizing her immediately when she arrives in town. This blinds him to Allen’s fairly obvious narcissistic goals, only to finding them out when Allen confesses them. It feels natural that he feels betrayed, and berates Allen when she realizes she likes him. That is where the interactions fall flat in my opinion. The chemistry between the two feels uncomfortable at times, as it’s basically like a pop star dating a fanboy. This is made worse by the large age difference between the two actors.

The most glaring issue I have with this movie is Barry Glickman, Allen’s costar, played by James Corden. Corden is a good singer and comedian, but I feel like his acting skills are lacking. Corden is not homosexual himself, yet he plays a character who is a homosexual man. This doesn’t mean that an actor must have the same sexual orientation as their character to nail the part, but in Corden’s case, he just uses homesexual stereotypes and cliches to get that across, and it feels almost offensive at times. 

While this movie definitely has its issues, mainly with its characters, it is still incredibly good. This film is a must watch for any theatre fan, and I highly recommend it for the casual moviegoer as well, but it might not be for everyone.

Spinnaker rates this film 4/5 Spinnaker sails.

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