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PROM

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
April 29, 2011 4:30 AM
5 Comments
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movie review


Here’s a rare bird: a film made for “tweens” that actually takes young people and their emotions seriously, instead of playing them for cheap laughs. What’s more, Prom won’t make parents cringe by exposing their children to characters who flaunt inappropriate behavior—or wardrobe.

Screenwriter Katie Wech gathered stories from friends about their experiences leading up to that prized senior-year ritual, the prom. Her movie reflects that grounding in reality, as it surveys a broad spectrum of characters, including a Little Miss Perfect who’s taken responsibility for planning every detail of the dance, but doesn’t have a date yet herself…a star jock who takes it for granted that he and his girlfriend will be crowned King and Queen, even though he’s been cheating on her…a gawky boy who’s always been too shy to ask a girl out, let alone pursue one to—

—go to the prom…a guy who abandons his best friend when he goes ga-ga for a beautiful girl who shows some interest in him…and a rebellious senior who thinks everything about prom is silly and beneath him, until he’s forced to work on decorations as a kind of detention chore.

Under Joe Nussbaum’s direction, the tone of the movie is one of sweet sincerity: these are real kids, not glammed-up Disney Channel mini-divas or broad comic stereotypes. I suspect almost everyone in the audience (regardless of age) will recognize him or herself in at least one of the characters onscreen. Even the parents are played sympathetically!

Are some characters and situations simplified or idealized a bit? Of course; this is a PG-rated Disney movie, after all. But even within that arena I think Prom deserves credit for refusing to trivialize the feelings of high school kids, including issues of self-confidence, peer pressure, and the first flush of sexual attraction. The young actors, some of whom may be familiar to television viewers, are well-chosen and the look of the movie is as believable as the people in the foreground. Well done!


 

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5 Comments

  • Elyse | May 11, 2011 7:33 AMReply

    @Kelsey,
    Yes, those elements are MIA from the movie. And yes, teens see/live the 'real' issues Caroline pointed out every day. At this point, it is refreshing not to witness foolish choices being paraded about. MTV networks does a good job of dragging culture through the gutter--it's their stock in trade. It is nice to see that Disney still feels that kids should be given an opportunity to aim higher than 'Teen Mom/Barefoot & Pregnant'--whatever MTV's reality shows are called.
    Perhaps some tweens will see something worthwhile in the 'Prom' characters. I'd rather they took away lessons from Disney teenagers instead than a bunch of idiot teen girls who got knocked up.

  • Leonard | May 6, 2011 6:37 AMReply

    I, too, appreciated the fact Prom was a film depicting the lives of "real" young people and takes their emotions and situations in a legitimate manner. In this day and age -- even on mainstream and family-friendly television, this is refreshing. However, as diverse as the film was, there was not a single gay or lesbian teenager represented. Are we to assume there was not a SINGLE GLBT teen who also wanted to go to prom? I would like to think, for a company that prides it self on diversity as Disney, it would truly represent the diversity of American high school students that also go to prom (Prom?).

    I ask only because back when I went to high school -- waaay long ago --- I *was* able to go, and it meant so much to me.

  • Caroline | May 5, 2011 8:13 AMReply

    Thanks for this review! I'm tired of seeing so severely negative ones. I mean, this is from Disney--what do people expect, Mean Girls?

    This movie knows what it is, and so should the audience! It's just cute, it's for fun. And it is fun. I don't know how you couldn't enjoy yourself watching this movie.

    EXCELLENT comment about this movie not trivializing teen feelings and angst. I couldn't put a name to that quality, but that's it. I can hear the critics now: "No, this movie doesn't trivialize--it dramatizes, it gives those feelings too much validity!" And I'd disagree.

    @Kelsey: Granted, there are teen pregnancies, teen drinking, teen drug use, cursing, vulgar clothes, disobedience, snarkiness....what's your point? The fact that we're not shown these teens doesn't make them any less real! There are teens like these, and with this movie's tone, audience, and subject matter, showing the less family-friendly teens would have been out of place.

  • Kelsey Leigh | May 2, 2011 1:19 AMReply

    Real kids? Please sir, I'd like to know how exactly the kids portrayed in the movie are 'real' at all.

  • Stephanie Feldick | May 1, 2011 6:45 AMReply

    I appreciate your review very much!

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