There was a time when Disney was synonymous with good, clean, wholesome family movies. Before edgier (relatively speaking) fare like Tron: Legacy and the Pirates of the Caribbean series, parents could rest assured that Disney meant Disney. With Prom, the latest from director Joe Nussbaum (Sydney White), the studio has returned to its roots.
There’s nothing remotely edgy about it.
Tracking the lives of a dozen or so kids in the weeks leading up to the Brookside High prom, Prom is as white-bread and ‘nice’ as you would expect. Brookside, apparently, is the only high school in America where there’s no talk of alcohol, no bullying, no peer pressure, and not even a hint that prom night is for anything other than dancing with the cute boy from homeroom.
As such, Prom may seem a little too sanitary for its own good, but heck, what’s wrong with a good ol’ refreshing, charming family film?
Nova (Aimee Teegarden) is the class president, a knock-out beauty, and chair of the prom committee. When all her decorations are destroyed just a few weeks before the big dance, the principal ‘sentences’ bad boy Jesse (Thomas McDonell) to help her build everything all over again. And, no, these two kids can’t stand each other at first, and yes, we all know that by the time the dance rolls around, they’ll obviously be making googly-eyes at each other. That’s only one of the see-it-coming-a-mile-away moments, but somehow Prom still manages to work.
If it were a math equation, it would look something like: Love Actually – the drama + High School Musical – the singing = Prom. As in Love Actually, subplots abound, including the woeful tale of the cute, gangly boy who’s too shy to ask anyone, the young sophomore who has a crush on his comely lab partner, the odd-ball with an odd name who says his date is a Greek model, and the jock who has an eye for other girls, much to the dismay of his longtime girlfriend.
There’s nothing here that you haven’t already seen in John Hughes movies or any of your favorite Nickelodeon shows, but the cast holds its own (and is, by and large, a collection of the prettiest young people on the planet), the script is cute (even if it is more than a little trite), and it’s all driven by a hip soundtrack, including, yes, even the requisite Katy Perry tune.
Teegarden and McDonell are the stars of the show and they both actually do a fine job. Of course it doesn’t hurt that he bears more than a passing resemblance to Johnny Depp and that she could easily be a spokesmodel for Nutrogena.
Nussbaum doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the party, but he does keep the movie rolling along at a nice pace, and the screenplay by first-timer Katie Wech includes quite a few funny moments. And not that adults have any reason to see this, but should you find yourself chaperoning, you’ll enjoy what amount to cameos from ‘our era’ TV stars, including Faith Ford (Murphy Brown), Jere Burns (Dear John), Amy Pietz (Caroline in the City), and even Beverly Hills 90210‘s Emily Valentine herself (Christine Elise).
Prom may not be anything close to realistic, but no matter—it’s a nice, entertaining teen (or pre-teen) flick that, if nothing else, is destined to enjoy a long, healthy career as a guilty pleasure.