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Saturday Movie Review: The Prom

I saw the original cast of The Prom on Broadway and loved it. I had been hearing bits and pieces about the show and how it was loosely based on the 2010 prom controversy in Fulton, Mississippi where prom was canceled after a lesbian wanted to bring her girlfriend. I knew I wanted to check it out. It sounded both heartwarming and hilarious, and that is always a good night on Broadway for me.

During the shows run on Broadway, it was announced that Netflix would be producing a movie version. The pandemic put some delays on the process but the movie was released in December 2020. Sadly, the Broadway music had already closed in August 2019. The movie had an all star cast that included Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden, Andrew Rannells, Keegan Michael-Kay, Kerry Washington and Ariana DeBose. Jo Ellen Pellman was chosen as lead protagonist Emma Nolan.

The movie version of The Prom had so much flash and charisma that was similar to the Broadway version. There was alot of fast dancing too. In the middle of it all though was the story of a young girl whose ability to attend prom with the one she loves is put into question. Oh, and a group of down on their luck Broadway stars looking for a cause to boost their careers. The four Broadway stars were hilarious! As I had seen the Broadway version I could see some of the differences in the way the characters were being portrayed, and I enjoyed seeing each interpretation. And when these characters find themselves in the middle of no where Indiana, these characters are so far out of their norm.

I’ve always loved the music of The Prom. It is upbeat when needed; soft and slow when needed; and full of bravo and the dramatic. Unruly Heart is such a beautiful song and I have to say Jo Ellen Pellman really knocked it out of the park with her voice and emotions. It is just a beautiful message and so important in present day society. There are similar important messages in Love Thy Neighbor and It’s Time To Dance. Unfortunately one of the most important set of lines in You Happened was removed in the movie and it allows for some missing context. The lines are:

Before I met you, I was a mess.
Not honest with myself, I confess.
I was so lonely, a total wreck.
Just sad and hopeless – check, double check

These lines were between Emma and her girlfriend Alyssa and provided some context for their relationship. They would have added to their relationship providing just a hint of background about how they got together and how they are committed to each other. To me, it just send a bad message that those particular lyrics were cut for the same-sex pair while the heterosexual couples were free to do their thing.

Of course, I could be reading into it more because I know the songs from the original Broadway cast. Perhaps if this is your first time watching with no previous experience, you would never even know. I just think it was wasted potential for a movie based on a same-sex relationship and the desire for acceptance. I still enjoyed the movie though. The heart of the show was on full display (and could have been even more). I feel like The Prom really is a show/movie that allows people to see themselves represented. And it also had a pretty good message of acceptance too.

Rating: 4 Stars

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