A new musical on Netflix

Ashtyn Harter, Reporter

On December 11, Netflix released its new movie musical: The Prom. Based on the award-winning 2018 musical, The Prom follows a troupe of Broadway stars as they help a high school girl from a conservative Indiana town who wants to take her girlfriend to prom. The movie stars notable actors like Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Keegan-Micheal Key, Andrew Rannells, and Ariana DeBose, just to name a few. 

Emma Nolan, played by Jo Ellen Pellman, is a teenager that goes to high school in Edgewater, Indiana, an extremely traditional conservative town. She just wants to go to prom like everyone else, but the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and student body do not want her to go. This is because Emma is a lesbian and she wants to take her girlfriend to prom. A group of four, fictional, egocentric broadway stars: Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep), Barry Glickman (James Corden), Angie Dickison (Nicole Kidman), and Trent Olivar (Andrew Rannells) come together to help Emma. They want to help her so they can fix their own reputations and make themselves look less self-centered. They want to shine a light on their careers after Dee Dee’s and Barry’s flop of a new musical.

Going into the movie, I had no idea what to expect. I was not very familiar with the Broadway show. I did not go in with the highest expectations because from my experience, most movie musicals that I have seen have only been sub-par. For the first three songs, I wasn’t too interested, but then the plot started to kick into gear. 

The relationship between Emma and her girlfriend Alyssa (Ariana DeBose) was what the movie was supposed to be about. The film followed along with the stage production, but the film seemed to be more focused on the big-name stars instead. It’s supposed to be about Emma and the stars that help her, not the stars and occasionally Emma. This is very ironic because the movie preaches against performative activism and letting fame go to your head, yet it relies on its stunt casting to carry it. Stunt casting is when a famous actor is cast as a guest star in a movie, TV show, or production in order to gain people’s interest.

There is a twist that I was not expecting, which was what I was very happy about. Something that I noticed was the relationships were very obvious, and one of them felt a little forced. I won’t spoil it, but it is very obvious that the pair will get together. Another issue is that the plot felt a bit rushed. Although I loved the song Love Thy Neighbor, it was used to change the students’ opinion of Emma too quickly. I understand that movie/musical magic exits and you need to have some suspension of disbelief aside, but changing the mind of people who have been taught homophobic beliefs their whole lives is not that easy. However, the song did have a really positive message.

The film is very visually entertaining, it is very colorful and interesting to look at. The special effects were pretty well done, for the most part. In the second song Changing Lives (Reprise), the group of four Broadway actors make their way down Broadway, but all of the theaters are out of place. For example, the Gershwin Theater, the theater that has housed Wicked for almost 17 years, was out of place. That was really my only issue with the visuals in the movie.

The songs were very, very catchy, and easy to get them stuck in your head. The performances were pretty decent for a movie musical. The vocals, of course, were good. They hired industry stars for a reason. The choreography was fun to watch and visually entertaining. I am not the biggest fan of James Corden, but he was tolerable in this movie. It was odd listening to his attempt at an English accent, which I believe he also did in the Into The Woods movie adaptation a few years back.

Overall, I really did enjoy the movie. It is a solid, feel-good movie musical and it is a fun watch. I love that it was a story about a biracial lesbian couple because I think there needs to be more representation regarding both of those areas, on stage and in film. I would definitely recommend that you give it a watch. It is a movie for musical theater nerds, performers, people in the LGBTQ+ community, and people who are just looking for a fun movie to watch.