REVIEW: Star power and songs carry ‘The Prom’

For the second year in a row James Corden is starring in a musical during the holiday season. This time, though, he has less fur.

Corden is one of four actors portraying Broadway performers in “The Prom.” Corden plays Barry, who is joined by other theater performers Dee Dee (Meryl Streep), Angie (Nicole Kidman) and Trent (Andrew Rannells). At the movie’s outset, the four are somewhat down on their luck after receiving negative reviews for their latest show.

However, they soon find a way to get good press again by supporting a teenager in Indiana named Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) who’s come out as a lesbian and has been met with resistance to attending her prom as a result. During their time there, though, the four become supportive of Emma more than just for their own needs.

“The Prom,” based off a stage musical of the same name, is a cute teen movie with some enjoyable songs littered throughout. While it’s certainly an enjoyable family feature, though, it does come with its share of flaws.

Most noticeable, the movie is way too long. “The Prom” is well over the two hour mark, and it’s a detriment. The story here just isn’t structured to require that long of a runtime, and it becomes somewhat exhausting when the movie keeps on going.

The movie takes a very generic path from start to finish, too. From the big city people reacting to small town America, to a reveal at the end of the second act that causes the characters to split up.

Courtesy Netflix.

The movie can keep winning an audience over, though, thanks to its committed cast, enjoyable music and its overall message. There are moments where the movie shows some real heart, and one can’t help but appreciate what’s on the screen.

There are some fun, catchy songs that can hook an audience in, too, which is of course a big plus in a musical. One of the standouts features Corden’s character going shopping with Pellman’s as the big dance approaches. They’re high energy, big in scope and are oftentimes meaningful to the characters.

The star power helps things quite a bit here. Streep, as usual, is really good here and has a lot of fun with the role. Corden, meanwhile, gives an energetic performance, while also handling some dramatic moments really well. Those two steal the spotlight in a lot of scenes, but Kidman also has some good sequences and a fun musical number.

Unfortunately, the Hollywood heavyweights in the picture overshadow Pellman’s Emma, despite her being the main character. This is Pellman’s first major starring role and it shows, as she’s upstaged often by the veteran cast. That’s not to say her performance is poor, as Pellman has some strong moments, but she doesn’t stand out in the lead role.

While “The Prom” could’ve been trimmed down and the lead performance could have been stronger, the new Netflix entry isn’t too bad. It’s not a monumental musical but it’s enjoyable for families and fans of the genre. 3.25. out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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