Shortly before Christmas, the streaming service Netlix is releasing the feel-good film event of the year. Which is why you definitely shouldn’t miss it in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical THE PROM Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman and many other Hollywood stars sing and dance, we reveal that in our review.
OT: The Prom (USA 2020)
Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden) are prominent stars of the New York stage scene and are currently in a crisis: their new and expensive Broadway show has proven to be a huge flop and is causing a career downturn. At the same time, in a small town in Indiana, lesbian student Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman) is experiencing her own, completely different debacle: although her school principal (Keegan-Michael Key) supports her, the head of the local parent-teacher association forbids her ( Kerry Washington) wants to attend the prom, which she wants to go to with her partner Alyssa (Ariana DeBose). Just as Dee Dee and Barry have decided that the Emma case is perfect for them to polish up their public image, they meet Angie (Nicole Kidman) and Trent (Andrew Rannells), who are also looking for a professional job improvement are. But the self-centered activism of the four celebrities comes to nothing and they notice how their own lives begin to change as they try to give Emma a night in which she can be completely herself…
Director and screenwriter Ryan Murphy is what you would call a jack of all trades. He became known to a wide audience through the musical series “Glee”; with “Nip/Tuck” and “The New Normal” already reached a niche audience. With the horror anthology “American Horror Story” he catapulted himself into the conversation of series lovers every year. The highlight of its format, which has been on the air since 2011, is that each season tells a (horror) story in a new setting with the help of a largely identical cast. The genre remains the same, but the tonality and staging score with the greatest possible variety. Classic haunted house cinema, crazy psychological horror or biting political satire – Ryan Murphy and co-series creator Brad Falchuk have mastered all of these different genre movements inside out. And it goes even further: the slasher epic “Scream Queens”, the ballroom drama “Pose” and the nostalgic dream factory worship “Hollywood” cemented Murphy’s status as a grab bag, now with his first film work since “Eat Pray Love” last year In 2010, he reflected on his origins as a musical director and incorporated all of his experiences over a decade as a director and producer. The eccentricity that has characterized his previous series work could not better complement the pomp of a classic Broadway spectacle like “The Prom”. And so his Netflix original of the same name becomes a brightly colored glitter pop spectacle that puts you in a good mood like no other film in 2020 and thrills you from the first to the last second.
Barry (James Corden), Angie (Nicole Kidman), Trent (Andrew Rannells) and Dee Dee (Meryl Streep) have a plan.
Probably also due to the commitment of Hollywood grandee Meryl Streep (“Florence Foster Jenkins”) “The Prom” was considered a hot Oscar candidate in the run-up to its release. Luckily for Americans, the film received a limited theatrical release in the States a week before its global Netflix release; just like “Roma”, “Marriage Story” and “The Irishman”. And even if we once again want to hold the flag high for the cinemas and regret not being able to see “The Prom” in cinemas in this country, it cannot be denied that the proverbial spark also jumps over the television screen. If not during the opening credits, which are accompanied by driving pop rhythms, then at the latest during the first big vocal number by Meryl Streep, James Cordon and the “The Prom” ensemble, “Changing Lives” – an ironic illustration of the advantages of being a celebrity – sets the tone: “The Prom” relies on big gestures, gaudy costumes, pomp and exaggeration – and therefore on everything that makes you either love or hate the musical genre, whether on stage or screen. “The Prom” is not sweet and melancholic like a “La La Land”, not tragically opulent like a “Les Misérables”, but just as extravagant and still lovingly tender at its core like a “Greatest Showman”. With the necessary amount of bite, of course, because while the circus show with Hugh Jackman is not only equal parts love story and appeal to individuality and otherness, the Oscar candidate is also a reckoning with the condescending part of the critics.
“‘The Prom’ relies on grand gestures, gaudy costumes, pomp and exaggeration – and therefore on everything that makes you either love or hate the musical genre, whether on stage or screen.”
In “The Prom” it is also a negative newspaper review that really gives the story its momentum. When Meryl Streep as the aged acting diva Dee Dee Allen tries a few scenes later to get a larger hotel room solely by slamming the two Tony Awards she won onto the receptionist’s counter (and still doesn’t get the suite in the end), sounds there is subconsciously the bigotry that is omnipresent in show business: a single, negative criticism can destroy a star’s career. Later, you no longer remember that it used to be overwhelmed with prices. The fact that Trent, of all people, who became famous through a sitcom, simply cannot shake off his image as a second-rate series star and is still only perceived as “the one from ‘Talk to the Hand’” supports this statement. But hypocrisy is far from being a problem exclusive to Broadway. Instead, as Andrew Rannell’s extremely amusing up-tempo number “Love thy Neighbor” reveals in the last third, it is also the driving force of the actual plot. Trent Emmas confronts these classmates, who have been rejected because of their homosexuality, with the fact that tattoos, sex before marriage or patchwork families are at least as much against the Bible as same-sex love, but that the kids live it as a matter of course, while Emma is bullied and excluded .
Angie tries to give the reserved Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) self-confidence.
It’s certainly never subtle, on the contrary: “Just Breathe” (Emma’s realization that coming out in rural Indiana is much more difficult than in the much more sexually open city), “The Acceptance Song” (the title speaks for itself) or “Alyssa Green”, in which Alyssa, drilled to perfection by her mother, sings about not being able to be herself, packing her simple messages not between the lines, but on the lines – and that is precisely why they hit the ear. And so we really like the idea that the rising generation of Netflix fans will soon be singing and dancing lines like “Who cares what other people say. And when we’re through, no one can convince us we were wrong. “All it takes is you and me.” hears blaring. And this idea isn’t all that far-fetched. Because even though Meryl Streep, “Nicole Kidman (“Lion”)James Corden (“Cats”) and Andrew Rannells (“Just a small favor”) are the faces with which “The Prom” is understandably advertised, it is primarily the fate of the outstandingly natural newcomer Jo Ellen Pellman (“The Deuce”), which touches the hearts of the audience and should therefore also be popular with younger people. And while Streep and Co. infuse their fears of being left behind with enough smugness to underline the “first world problem” mentality of their problems, there is no irony whatsoever in the discussion of Emma’s exclusion: that this girl doesn’t go to the prom with her same-sex partner may be resolved with a lot of music and dancing, but the scope of the conflict does not diminish.
“Because although Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden and Andrew Rannells are the faces with which ‘The Prom’ is understandably advertised, it is primarily the fate of the outstandingly natural newcomer Jo Ellen Pellman “The audience feels strongly about it and will therefore also appeal to younger people.”
As obvious as the inclusion of a homosexual couple in “The Prom” is, the homophobia that is offensively expressed in the film is dealt with clearly. Kerry embodies Washington (“Django Unchained”) With her rejection of Emma, she is neither a cartoonish film villain nor a thoroughly evil opponent, but exactly the type of person for whom the non-acceptance of homosexuals is just as natural as acceptance is for us. So you never have the impression that you are witnessing a conflict that was specially written for the film (the musical “The Prom” is even based on a true story), but rather one that can occur at any time. Except that in such a case there is rarely singing and dancing to get rid of it.
Emma and Alyssa (Ariana DeBose) are the perfect couple.
Just as good as Ryan Murphy and his writing team of Bob Martin (“Sensitive Skin”) and Chad Beguelin (who wrote most of the original songs from “The Prom”) manage to combine the quiet, dramatic tones of the film with the opulent spectacle, the actors manage to vary their performances. Each of them is just as convincing in their large gestures as they are in their small, interpersonal actions – even if not every note is perfect. Nevertheless, that’s a lot of the real appeal of “The Prom”: the choreographies work perfectly (especially the dance numbers with as many extras as possible look damn good!), the camera pans (Matthew Libatique, “A Star is Born”) adapt to the rhythms of the songs and yet the story remains small and intimate, the cast always a touch imperfect until the end – and therefore approachable. This makes her good mood, carried by her proudly swollen chest, all the more contagious. You just have to sing and dance along.
Conclusion: “The Prom” is the Feel-good film of the year and the Highlight among the numerous Netflix originals in 2020. Spectacular pomp meets sensitive nuances, interspersed with catchy song and dance numbers that the well-known cast is clearly having fun with. However, you should be open to the kitsch typical of musicals in order to be able to enjoy the film in all its facets.
“The Prom” will be available to stream on Netflix from December 11th.