The Stream: Most songs are just okay and the energy is more relentless than infectious.
The Big Screen: Meryl Streep slays even more than usual.
The Final Bill: Musical fans will love it. Others will tolerate it.– Trip Fontaine
Director: Ryan Murphy
Writers: Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin
Stars: Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, and Kerry Washington
Genre: Musical, Comedy
Runtime: 2 hours 10 minutes
It’s prom season, Streamers!
No, it’s not! It’s Christmas!
Well, Netflix delivers Ryan Murphy’s The Prom like a Broadway-obsessed Santa Claus two weeks early. I watched this high energy musical about a group of narcissistic Broadway actors, who trek to Smalltown, U.S.A. in a bid to reform their tarnished reputations by adopting the cause of a teenage girl who just wants to take her girlfriend to prom. This is an adaptation of the recent Tony nominated musical that is filled with big stars and a lot of color (i.e. Streep, Kidman, Washington, Corden?) and pizzazz. I am not really a movie musical fan, but here’s how it went.
It’s inevitable because Ryan Murphy has done musical and high school before that Glee is going to come up, and because The Prom has those central themes of acceptance, inclusion and self-discovery it can teeter on overly sentimental. It is unmistakably Ryan Murphy from the candy colors, the broad performances and the sunny disposition even in the face of adversity. There are moments of sarcasm and satire that cut through what could be saccharine, which either you buy into or you don’t.
What’s most important about musicals is the music. The Prom is a musical with capital JAZZ HANDS. The songs are very classic Broadway-style with every element that that conjures for you. If you don’t like musicals, the music here will tick every box of why you won’t like it; but it could be what you’d love, if that’s your thing.
The best thing about The Prom is the performance of Meryl Streep. Yes, it’s Meryl Streep, but she’s giving it even more Streep in this musical. She belts like you wouldn’t believe. She also gives that diva energy that her character, Dee Dee, exudes. This Streep-iness is what you want from a Streep musical. Also, Keegan Michael Key is a surprise as the principal of the high school and Dee Dee’s biggest fan. Of course, he’s charming and funny, but he grounds this frothy musical in some reality. I feel less strongly about other members of the cast. Kidman and Andrew Rannells have too little to do. The teenagers are fine but lack charisma. Really, I was just waiting for Streep and Key to return whenever the film focused on another character.
Ultimately, The Prom was fun because a film with this much energy is bound to get you. It does its best to grab its audience and hold your attention for two hours. The music does not sing as it should unless Streep is there to perform it. For non-musical fans, it’s probably just a handful of popcorn; but to those down for some singing about acceptance in a mall, fill a big box and enjoy.
S2S: I’m never watching this…. you couldn’t pay me!