A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that F the Prom is a revenge-of-the-high-school-outsiders story in which prom night represents all that is wrong with and memorable about high school, and the "F" of the title stands for the four-letter "F" word. Bullied students relegated for four years to second-class status by the popular kids at school decide to sabotage the night they believe is designed to celebrate and memorialize all that the popular kids loved about their high school years and all that unpopular kids hated about the experience. Students talk about the desire for sex on prom night. Nude selfies are referenced. Kids use social media to send doctored photos suggesting a senior has a small penis. A bullied gay student's locker is filled with plastic penises. Bullies drape an orthodox Jewish student with a pig's head and a lobster, two items that aren't kosher. A girl accuses her best friend of giving her an eating disorder by calling her fat. Bullies tar and feather a student. Students are given embarrassing nicknames: Tighty (short for Tighty Whitey, referring to his underwear, seen by a crowd when someone pulls his shorts down), Sweats, Mutey, and Stuft (for using toilet paper to pad her bra). One student's drink is spiked with a vomit-inducing agent. Both a school principal and a senior's father refer to having sex on prom night as if it's a given. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "a--hole," "d--k," and " balls." A parent offers to get underage teenagers beer as long as they don't tell their parents.
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What's the story?
In F THE PROM, Cole (Joel Courtney) and Maddy (Danielle Campbell) start high school as best friends. Maddy attains high status as a pretty cheerleader and social high priestess admired by all. The artistic Cole becomes a bullied subject of ridicule. Maddy abandons him to stay on her elevated perch while Cole, hurt and in love with her, watches from afar. By senior year, Maddy relishes the prospect of being named prom queen, arm in arm with Kane, her boyfriend, the expected prom king. But when Maddy's friend steals Kane away, Maddy starts talking to Cole again and persuades him and other bullied kids to support her effort to sabotage the prom, a gesture designed to prove she's changed her ways. At first, the bullied kids refuse to sign on, asking why they should trust and help someone who has hurt them just because she's been kicked to the floor by her former best friend and her ex. When they do decide to support her, the plan proceeds until Maddy changes her mind at the last moment, abandons the "losers," and gets back together with Kane to enjoy her moment in the prom spotlight. The anti-prom team proceeds with their disruptive plans and Maddy, crowned queen, stands in the spotlight as tar and feathers drop down on her. Cole stops speaking to her, but Maddy helps him get into art school and they kiss and make up.
Is it any good?
This movie tries to be too many things to too many different people and thus makes little or no sense. Maddy goes from nice kid to snobby popular girl. How does that transformation occur? We never see. She condones bullying. She hangs out with jerks. But when she gets dumped by her popular boyfriend and reconnects with old friend Cole, she admits she's been awful and persuades him and other bullied kids to support her effort to sabotage the prom, a gesture designed to prove she's changed her ways. This seems unconvincing at best.
Equally difficult to credit is her later decision to betray her new friends and opt for a fairy tale, prom-queen triumph. It certainly feels unbelievable that she would somehow in the process have forgotten what fate she and her co-conspirators had planned for whoever was elected prom queen. After tar and feathers fall on her in the spotlight, she becomes apologetic again and somehow surprised that Cole is snubbing her. F the Prom relies on clever dialogue to disguise the fact that it has ignored any real character development. Why does the supposedly reformed Maddy, who understands the shallowness of popularity, go ahead and betray her friends again? When she makes a kind gesture at the end, Cole forgives her. It just doesn't seem plausible.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why popular kids can sometimes be mean. In F the Prom, Maddy suggests that the pressure to stay popular made her try to be someone other than herself. Why do you think kids become bullies?
Why do you think people want to be popular? Do you think that impulse might come from insecurity?
What's the appeal of movies about the prom? How does this one compare to other prom movies?
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