“The Prom”
RELEASE DATE: December 11, 2020 (Netflix)
MPAA RATING: PG-13 (Thematic elements, suggestive/sexual references, language)

In a society seeking escape from the pandemic, watching The Prom may be just the ticket. The film is essentially a silly, you-must-be-kidding-me, over-the-top musical that has, at its core, an important message about acceptance. The challenge is that there is a lot of glitz to get through before one reaches the core.

The story, based on the 2018 Broadway production of the same title, centers on a group of performers (Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, and Andrew Rannels) that seek some positive publicity in the wake of receiving disastrous performance reviews. Conveniently, they find an opportunity in Indiana at a small-town high school where they advocate on behalf of a student, Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) who wants to attend the prom with her girlfriend, Alyssa (Ariana Debose).

Throw-in an understanding principal (Keegan-Michael Key) and an anti-inclusive prom mom (Kerry Washington), add stereotypical snobbish and self-centered students, and you have the cast of characters of The Prom.

If the film seems to conjure images of the old television program, Glee, that may because its director, Ryan Murphy (himself a product of Indiana), created and executive produced that series. This film, at times, seems to mesh Grease with High School Musical and its subplot makes one begin to wonder if it is about to morph into Stephen King’s Carrie. Thankfully, the latter does not occur, but what does happen is all over the place.

The cast appears to be having a good time, and this is escapism – but then, so is Return to Gilligan’s Island and I would not want to sit through that again, either.

The best I can say about The Prom is that it conveys an important message, it is good to see James Corden demonstrating musically on the big screen again, and that Meryl Streep’s singing talent has greatly improved since her performance in Mama Mia!