In general, I’m a fan of cheesy teen movies. Sure, I may be in my mid-30s, but I enjoy reliving high school as much as anyone. So I went into the theater to see Prom with expectations to enjoy it. My wife, meanwhile, was dreading every moment, not excited at all about seeing a movie that promised to be a glorified after school special. I should have listened to her.
This is the first film that was put into production after Rich Ross took over the Walt Disney Studios from Dick Cook. He should have thought twice about it. It’s understandable that Ross, who came from the Disney Channel, would want to take Disney’s expertise in creating entertainment for tweens and capitalize on it. However, as in most cases, he should have worried about making a good movie first and then figured out who would go see it.
I’m selling Prom short, though, because there is a decent film contained within this muddled mess. As you might imagine, the film tells the story of a group of kids getting ready for their high school prom. Nova, the lead character, portrayed by Aimee Teegarden, is leading the prom committee with her friends, when an unfortunate accident destroys the prom decorations with only 3 weeks to go.
The rest of the film tells the stories of multiple couples and what they are going through to get ready for prom. Nova is paired with the school bad boy, Jesse Richter, in a predictable pairing of the valedictorian and the bad boy falling in love. They are the lead story, but there are four others to deal with as well. None of them are well served, because of the crowded storylines.
It’s kind of sad, really, because Joe Nussbaum as the director does a pretty good job. The composition of the shots, the use of hand held cameras to portray emotional moments, and the performances of the actors are all well done. The problem comes when trying to watch the movie and feel a sense of emotion or surprise.
If you’ve watched Saved By The Bell, High School Musical or any John Hughes movie, you’re going to know every single twist and turn of Prom. I found myself in the theater able to discern the next step for every character and storyline, without half trying. This is especially true of Nova’s romance with Jesse Richter.
The lone storyline that offers a bit of surprise is that of Lucas and Simone, the sophomores on the periphery of the prom uproar. The problem is that the way the script is written, neither is a very likable character. Both Lucas and Simone do some horrible things that make them difficult to love.
The other major problem is that the humor is mostly absent from the film because, if you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve seen the jokes. The plot of Lloyd trying to find a date to prom is the main comedic relief to what is otherwise a mostly serious film. That doesn’t play well for what is supposed to be a lighthearted film.
When it comes down to it, it’s the script that lets this film down. As mentioned, the cinematography and acting are actually good. The issue becomes what the actors were asked to do, and that’s the script. If you have kids who want to see this, try and persuade them to wait for Pirates of the Caribbean instead.