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Movie Review: Prom

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I will always remember… going to my own prom with one of my good friends. She asked me because I had originally asked her to go to another dance and she already had plans (not to go). So alas, there we were at the Little America drinking water, punch, or whatever it was, but the funny thing is, the one thing I remember most was dancing with one of my best guy friends, Matt Mabey. It’s funny, the things you really remember, isn’t it? Maybe it’s because the two of us have been friends since elementary school but who knows. All I know today, is that after this weekend’s opening of the new Disney film Prom, there won’t even be one lasting memory from anyone unfortunate enough to suffer through it.

I’ve mentioned several times in past reviews that taking my glasses off while sitting through a film is the one way my wife can tell I have had it with a particular film. Prom managed to make it to the 35-minute mark but that was surely pushing it. Another way I can tell whether I’m thoroughly enjoying or absolutely loathing what’s happening onscreen is whether I take any notes. Sometimes I’ll write an entire review in what looks like a manifest of complaints. Granted, I may not be the target audience for a film like Prom, but if this is what today’s generation of pre-graduates considers their benchmark then I just can’t help but feel sorry for what they’re being spoon-fed by Hollywood.

Prom apparently wants to be the Valentine’s Day of the season. However, that may be giving the film more credit than it deserves. Prom follows along a huge group of teenagers as they all fall into the traps of trials, tribulations, and ultimately, clichés, as they get ready for prom.

Brookside High School is no different than any other; you could take a checklist from any John Hughes film, or any high school film at that, and find everyone rightly in place. From overachiever Nova Prescott (Aimee Teegarden) to bad boy Jesse Richter (Thomas McDonell), wannabe lacrosse jock Lucas (Nolan Sotillo) to star lacrosse varsity jock Tyler (DeVaughn Nixon). There’s also the Say Anything Lloyd rip-off (Nicholas Braun), but this guy is no Dobler, that’s for sure.

The film tries to keep track of at least fifteen characters, none of whom have a real character arc; you can see their comeuppances foreshadowed the minute they’re introduced. It’s literally as if a cast of transparency sheets were thrown in front of the camera. Meanwhile, director Joe Nussbaum and writer Katie Wech (making one of the least charismatic screenwriting debuts in a long time) keep throwing around the question, “Prom?” to which the audience may simply wind up shrugging their own shoulders thinking the same thing.

Everything comes across this lackluster. It’s like watching a bad TV sitcom filmed with a laugh track in mind that someone forgot to throw in during post-production. None of the songs from the soundtrack fit either. Why would any self-respecting DJ play Taio Cruz’s “Break Your Heart?” The whole film is this misguided. It all feels so flat and thrown together that you’d think you’re watching a work print. There’s rarely any kind of background noise as if Nussbaum thought filming the scenes au naturel is a good idea for a film like this. There’s rarely even any kind of original score. Instead, anytime something even close to resembling a character moment has just another melancholy soundtrack offering that never fits the mood of what’s happening onscreen. And this happens on a regular basis. Just about every five minutes a new “twist” happens and you wish Scooby were sitting next to you to yelp out “ruh-roh.” Except that would actually be funny, unlike anything that happens here.

Finally, as much as people may have complained about some of the characters in Scream 4, in the opening scene featuring Aimee Teegarden playing Jenny, she converses with her friend Marnie (Brittany Robertson) – Marnie: “…if the beginning of Stab 7 is Stab 6, then is the beginning of Stab 6 Stab 5, and if so, what is Stab 4 about?” Jenny: “You’re overthinking it.” Marnie: “Am I? Or did whoever make it just underthink it?”

What I think? How about we make the end of Prom the beginning of Scream 4 because let’s face it, these characters are so cloying that you sit wishing Ghost Face would make an appearance and stab someone just to shut them all up.

Photos courtesy Walt Disney Pictures

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About Cinenerd

A Utah based writer, born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT for better and worse. Cinenerd has had an obsession with film his entire life, finally able to write about them since 2009, and the only thing he loves more are his wife and their two wiener dogs (Beatrix Kiddo and Pixar Animation). He is accredited with the Sundance Film Festival.