Director; Ryan Murphy. Starring; Meryl Streep, James Corden, Jo Ellen Pellman. PG-13. Color. 130 minutes.
One thing I do not hesitate to stand up against is bigotry and hate. My argument with people who are against gays is always very simple. How is their choice of sexual preference affecting you in any way? How is doing it with another dude or with another chick any less strange or taboo than a man and woman getting down in the bedroom? Trust me, go to a gay pride parade. These human beings, who are just as valuable as everyone else, have way more fun than us prototypical ‘norms’ in the eyes of the world. Being a straight white dude can be so boring sometimes, but I can’t change how I was born. “The Prom” is a poignant celebration of two high school students that deserve an experience just as much as we all do.
Relative newcomer Jo Ellen Pellman plays Emma, a homosexual hoping to attend her high school prom in a small conservative town in Indiana. It comes down to a vote and she will not be allowed to go. To make matters even tougher, her girlfriend is the daughter of Mrs. Greene (Kerry Washington). Mrs. Greene is not exactly the most, um, accepting of people when it comes to girl-on-girl action.
Cut to a washed up crew of Broadway singers led by Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep). Dee Dee is one of those divas who does not understand when your fifteen minutes of fame are up. Teamed up with her frequent co-star Barry Clickman (James Corden), they are looking into the mirror after performing in a god awful musical based on the life of Eleanore Roosevelt. Attempting not to become completely forgotten, they create the idea of performing a random act of kindness as that will play well on social media. After seeing Emma’s story they grab two of their other colleagues from Broadway (Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannells) and it is off to Indiana.
The social disconnect between New York and Indiana people is obvious from the start, particularly when Streep’s character cannot get a personal suite. Still, the group’s trek is trending on twitter so that’s good. Once arriving at the school they encounter Emma and are blown away by this girl and her kind heart. The musical numbers become less about fame and more about hope, highlighted by the signature jam ‘Tonight Belongs to You’.
Look, “The Prom” is not perfect, and it is not for everybody. The film is about 20 minutes too long and I’m sure the live performance created in 2018 by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin is the real way to see this thing. But as far as movie adaptations of Broadway pieces goes, this is a solid addition. Simply ask James Corden if this was a better decision than doing “Cats”. “The Prom” is all about pure enjoyment with the message of including those who are ‘different’ with some solid jams thrown in. That is something I can always get behind.