If the film Prom is any indication, it would seem that we have finally stumbled onto the secret of world peace. All we need to do is to throw a giant prom, and the world would function in perfect harmony. For you see, according to this film, all it takes is this one magical dance to melt the hearts of the most jaded, and to unite those in deepest conflict. Unfortunately, this is just a film, and it looks like the problems of the world can’t be solved quite so easily.
The story of Prom focuses on Nova Prescott, prom planner extraordinaire. She realizes the extreme significance this night is going to hold for everybody, and she is determined to make this event and her incredible theme of “Starry Night” the most amazing night of their lives. It would seem in this world that nothing is more important than this dance, as it is literally all anybody is capable of discussing. But when the shed holding all the decorations goes up in flames, how can she possibly prepare the greatest night of every student’s life in such a short timeframe? Luckily, the school has a cliche “bad boy” with a heart of gold who is forced by the principal to help her get things back on track, and maybe even discover true love.
Obviously, I’m approaching this from a very cynical perspective, and maybe that’s not entirely fair. True, every moment is telegraphed from a mile away, and every punchline has been delivered many times before. However, everything about the film seems genuine, and I’m sure teenage girls will have a great time. While the film centers around Nova, there are several auxiliary stories as well, and some of them are even mildly entertaining.
In fact, I reluctantly admit to even laughing a few times, especially at the character of Lloyd and his awkward attempts to ask total strangers to the dance. And while there are some truly awful performances, I have to give credit to the filmmakers for casting several first-time actors in an attempt to lend authenticity to the production. There are some surprisingly decent performances from the adult characters as well, particularly Dean Norris (Breaking Bad) as Nova’s overly-protective but loving father.
Yet none of this takes away from the sheer ridiculousness of the conceit that a school dance will bring people together the way it does here. It quickly becomes tiresome seeing this event placed on such an epic pedestal. Considering this is a squeaky clean Disney film, not a single character feels like a real perrson, and there is never any doubt as to the outcome of each and every story. I quickly realized that every character is a type, rather than an actual character. The screenwriter, Katie Wech, came up with the broadest strokes of each person on the most base level, and never developed any of them.
As mentioned above, the target audience seems to be teenage girls, and truth be told, I don’t fit into that category. I would like to think that your average teenager holds films to a higher standard than this, but I know that isn’t always true. So, if this is a movie you’re interested in, Disney has just released a pretty decent Blu-Ray + DVD combo pack. I love the way Disney is releasing their films in these combo packs, making it so DVD users won’t have to upgrade their collectoin when they make the inevitable switch to Blu-Ray.
However, it should be noted that the DVD doesn’t have as many extras as the Blu-Ray. It has the same blooper reel, and the same short feature called “Putting on Prom.” This is a really generic making-of featurette that doesn’t really provide much insight into anything. We learn about some of the cast and crew’s real-life prom experiences, a little bit about some of their personal lives, and that’s about it. As for the bloopers, there is definitely nothing that hasn’t been seen a billion times before.
On the Blu-Ray however, there’s that same short feature, the same bloopers, deleted scenes, 7 (!) music videos, and a short film called “Last Chance Lloyd.” I mentioned above that I really enjoyed Lloyd’s character in the film, but this short doesn’t serve much of a purpose. It’s mostly reconstituted scenes from the film fleshed out with a little more detail. It runs about 10 minutes and does nothing to enhance the material that was in the film.
Not being the target demographic, I tried to approach this movie from the perspective of the intended audience. However, even from the point of view of a teenager obsessed with school dances, I still would have felt shortchanged by the two-dimensional characters and lack of narrative momentum. The film is competently made and there’s nothing inherently bad about it. There’s just not much of a point.