The Reel Review

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When a lesbian in a conservative town in Indiana is banned from taking her girlfriend to the high school prom, a troupe of hilariously narcissistic theater stars (Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden and Andrew Rannells) swoop in from New York to help make her wish a reality, in this Netflix musical from Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story, Hollywood). The Prom is an adaptation of the 2018 Tony award-nominated Broadway play.

Ariana DeBose and Jo Ellen Pellman in The Prom.

Eye-rollingly and intentionally corny, The Prom leans heavily into Broadway’s stereotypical, earnest hokeyness with a sweet story and a lineup of clever and catchy musical numbers. Think of it as manically upbeat, charming and edgier, same sex-oriented riff on Disney’s High School Musical franchise.

Andrew Rannells performs “Love Thy Neighbor” in The Prom.

While Streep and Kidman certainly deliver as the film’s big name draws, it is James Corden who is the king of this prom in the acting department, with several big emotional moments, in particular, one with Tracey Ullman as his mom. Andrew Rannells, whose Broadway credits includes The Book of Mormon, Falsettos and Hamilton, churns out the big show stopping moment of the film, with his rousing song, dance (and tamborine!) performance of the tune “Love Thy Neighbor.” It is simply incredible. Keenan-Michael Key also impresses as the school principal.

Meryl Streep and James Corden in The Prom.

The film’s clever camerawork and upbeat tunes are reminiscent of Murphy’s first two years of Glee, which helps to offset a sometimes clunky story, particularly in the second act. The Prom is a joyous, feel good crowd pleaser. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself adding songs from the soundtrack to your personal playlist before the credits are over.

REEL FACTS

The Prom is Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman’s third collaboration, after 2002’s The Hours and 2019’s season two of Big Little Lies.

• Meryl Streep, James Corden and Tracey Ullman all appeared in 2014’s Into the Woods.

• The stage production of The Prom debuted in Atlanta in 2016 before moving to Broadway in 2018 and getting nominated for six Tony awards, including Best Musical and three nominations  (Caitlin Kinnunen, Beth Leavel, Brooks Ashmanskas) in the acting categories.

 

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