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Metronome Sessions

Film Review: The Prom

16 December 20 words: Katie Green

Ryan Murphy brings a star-studded cast to our screens in this Broadway-inspired musical...

Director: Ryan Murphy
Starring: Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman
Running time: 131 minutes

Fans of Murphy’s past work will know he is an expert at making socially-conscious musical comedy (that can tackles issues such as homophobia) a success – going along the lines of a little show named GleeMusical stars Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden) are facing trouble with their latest stint on the Broadway stage – called Eleanor! After some bad reviews, their opening night is a fail and the show is shut down. Dee Dee and Barry are stuck in limbo, so they decide to drown their sorrows…

Whilst drinking away their worries, chorus line performer Angie (Nicole Kidman) and unemployed actor Trent (Andrew Rannells) try to get their spirits up to show all hope is not lost. After checking social media, Angie informs them of the latest trend on Twitter. It concerns a gay teen – named Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) – in Indiana who has been prevented from bringing her girlfriend to the prom. 

The Broadway stars decide to set their sails from New York to Indiana - with the goal to save their careers - to campaign against the homophobia taking place. 

The cast are clearly what bring this story line to life and add the glitz and the glamour to all who watch. Meryl Streep in her portrayal of Broadway star Dee Dee Allen is the real star of the show. Her character is clearly one of the biggest and best, and she is deserving of this reputation. Her opening act in the performance of “Changing Lives” is just what you would expect from any Broadway show.

Not only is her singing on point, but she exposes both her arrogant and sensitive side to her character. A scene that sticks out in particular for this is her dinner with Mr Hawkins (Keegan-Michael Key) where they are talking about her past relationship.

The perfect watch for the lead up to Christmas

An enlightening element of the musical film is definitely the soundtrack. It is something too familiar to a musical that the soundtrack tells the story alongside the plot, and this soundtrack does just that. The song that stands out the most out of the exquisite playlist is Dance with You – the duet between Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) and Alyssa (Ariana DeBose).

It's perhaps one of the less jazzy songs in the movie, and makes it a more thoughtful and meaningful song, playing a vital part to the initial plot of challenging societal views. In all the songs she performs in The Prom, I found myself feeling more drawn into when Jo Ellen Pellman is singing, not just in her duet with Alyssa in Dance with You

Perhaps the only downfall I can pull from the film is the overriding of “over the top happy go lucky” acting. With the main plot surrounding a subject that is dealt with more closely in other films, it is a subject that normally includes more sensitive scenes. However, the sensitive parts of the film that are included tie well into the plot, such as the scene between Angie and Emma as Angie explains how they are now “ride or die”.

Another element of the film to question is James Corden and his American accent. Although he may be a big star in America now, I will forever know him as Smithy in Gavin and Stacey, singing “Three Lions on a Shirt” with Gav, Mick and Pamelaaa.

The American accent is something I simply couldn’t take seriously at times. However, this didn’t mean the casting of Corden in the part of Barry was any the less good. He brought a warming element to the plot that made it an even more enjoyable watch – especially in his relationship with Emma.

Overall, The Prom was the perfect watch to bring the corny musical side to our screens; something that has been missing for a while. It is the perfect watch for the lead up to Christmas.

Did you know? The Prom is the first film under Murphy’s five-year, $300 million deal with Netflix, which was named “the largest deal in television history” by the New Yorker in 2018.

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