Let's start with Marshall Fine's review, in which he states that "girls need this kind of princess-y tale the way boys need adventure stories; it’s a rite of passage." Thank you, for another reminder of what's wrong with gender imbalances in the media and the messages we're sending to children. At least the stars have "sweet, unaffected chemistry," according to TimeOut's Keith Uhlich. With lighting like this, how could they not? But Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles already nailed the hate=love formula in 1999's Ten Things I Hate About You (an adaptation of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew), which we'll call the thinking teen's Prom. Get ye to your Netflix queue.
The soundtrack may be the most promising thing; preview it at the Prom Facebook page.
"I’m obviously not the target demographic for Disney’s “Prom.” Still, I’d like to think that, even if I were a teen-age girl, I’d be smart enough to see this for the formulaic b.s. that it is. Yes, I know, girls need this kind of princess-y tale the way boys need adventure stories; it’s a rite of passage. So “Prom” seems relatively harmless; also, lifeless and pointless."
"The film, a wish-fulfillment fantasy through and through, sounds as if it was scripted by a tween, but it acknowledges the sincerity of its characters' desires without denying that the ritual of prom is by and large a frivolous one. The plot is clogged with rote incidents familiar from countless teen movies about heartache and college-initiated separation, but the low-budget aesthetic choices—from the frequent use of handheld to the use of music (Passion Pit and M83 are prominently featured, but Katy Perry has to wait until the big night to be heard)—give the whole thing a semblance of the real."
Nick Pinkerton, Village Voice:
"The prophecy of Nova’s opening voiceover—'One night has a way of bringing everyone together'—is fulfilled by the last reel, sincere hearts are rewarded, bad boys are harnessed into cummerbunds, and traditions are called into question and then quickly validated. The self-reinforcing system of Prom’s universe is so perfectly worked out in advance that all the movie needs to do is fulfill its requirements. It deserves nothing more or less than a Perfect Attendance award."
Brian Lowry, Variety:
"In a way, Prom performs a cinematic service -- assembling several decades worth of high-school movie cliches in one tidy package, all building toward a prom night conveniently free of sex, drugs or other traditional forms of youthful debauchery. Essentially, this is a Disney Channel movie on a larger screen -- skipping the intermediate step that preceded High School Musical hitting theaters."
"High on the movie’s list of soul-shattering conundrums is the difficulty of telling your long-term boyfriend you got into Parsons. But the majority of the drama comes courtesy of prom committee head Nova (Teegarden) and school bad boy Jesse (McDonell), who are forced to work together after the decorations for the gala—theme: Starry Night—go up in flames. They hate each other, of course. Which means they love each other. Fortunately, Teegarden and McDonell make up for the hand-me-down plotting with a sweet, unaffected chemistry."