Saturday, December 26, 2020

The Prom

Movie Name:
The Prom
Year of Release: 2020
Director: Ryan Murphy
Starring: Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Kerry Washington, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells, Ariana DeBose, Jo Ellen Pellman, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Chamberlin, Mary Kay Place, Sofia Deler, Logan Riley, Nico Greetham, Nathaniel J. Potvin
Genre: Musical, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 1
View Trailer

Synopsis and Review:
The ever prolific writer/producer/director Ryan Murphy is back, with his most recent feature since "The Normal Heart", which premiered in 2014. This time around, the film is an adaptation of a Broadway musical, and follows the story of a group of Theater actors, who after an abysmal critical reception of their latest endeavor, have a fantastical idea to sponsor/endorse an event or cause in need.  They can of course bask in the publicity this event will have,  which will further humanize and bring them the attention they urgently need to restore their flailing reputations. They decide to tackle a controversial Prom which will be taking place in Indiana, where a female student wants to have another female student as her date. The PTA and its local leader are fiercely against this, not actually realizing her daughter is the person whom Emma wants to bring as her date to the prom. As the Broadway royalty descends on Edgewater, they collectively and individually come to terms with a series of unresolved issues in their own lives, and realize that while pursuing only their best interests, their salvation lies in being a bit more selfless and invested in the well being of others.
"The Prom" manages to gather a very talented cast, with luminaries such as Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Kerry Washington, Tracey Ullman and Mary Kay Place, all of whom bring to life characters that are very thinly developed. The film for all its good intentions, and for all the talent involved, can't escape this feeling of a made for TV special, one filled with contrived plot points, epiphanies that are doled out left and right, ultimately lacking a more distinct point of view. What has always been interesting about films such as Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge" or Bob Fosse's "All That Jazz", to name but a few and independently of their overall quality, is the fact that those particular directors have a point of view, which truly make the musical numbers feel otherworldly, using the songs and musical numbers not only to express a character's point of view, but also to showcase an entirely different universe, which is a demonstration of their stylistic and thematic perspectives. "The Prom" sadly never truly leaves the dour reality, doesn't nurture the whimsical, and even the music itself, sounds artificial and generic. Making every character wear rhinestones doesn't make the events transformative or magical: in this particular case it makes everything look cheap and ultimately forgettable. Meryl Streep mines as much as she can for the fading star of Broadway she portrays, but she relished that character far more in Robert Zemeckis's "Death Becomes Her". For all the amorality of all the characters in that film, they still managed to have fun and be indelible. That sadly can't be found here. A missed opportunity.