A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Disney-fied take on a quintessential teen rite of passage is tween friendly. Unlike most movies featuring high schoolers, the characters in Prom don't swear, discuss sex, or indulge in overt public displays of affection. Characters do date and flirt, but only kissing is shown. There's some tension between a rogueish character and a group of guys who disrespect his mother, but the ensuing fight is brief and only shows one punch and some shoving. There's no drinking, and the language is limited to "stupid," "loser," and the like. The cast is diverse, and all of the teens make parent-approved decisions like leaving a two-timing boyfriend and not giving up a spot at a top university for a guy.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Class president Nova Prescott (Aimee Teegarden) is in charge of planning her school's senior PROM. Everywhere she looks, guys are going to elaborate lengths to ask potential dates to the dance, but Brandon (Jonathan Keltz), the boy she's interested in, simply asks her to carpool together instead of making it a big deal. Her mild disappointment is replaced by horror when she realizes that all of the prom decorations have been destroyed in a small campus fire. The principal (Jere Burns) offers the help of Jesse Richter (Thomas McDonell), a troubled senior who must help Nova reconstruct the decor as punishment for his truancy. The two hesitantly begin to work together every day after school, and as they begin to see past each other's reputations, the rest of the senior class deals with their own personal dramas in the lead up to the big night.
Is it any good?
Parents looking for a completely tame high school movie for their younger kids to watch will be thrilled with this PG version of adolescence. Director Joe Nussbaum has so rigorously Disney-fied the high school experience that the characters act more like Disney Channel or Nickelodeon TV tweens than real teenagers. In the Prom universe, no one is belligerent or rebellious or even hormonal. Jesse skips class to help his single mom, and when it's revealed that the school 's big jock, Tyler (DeVaughn Nixon), is cheating on his prom queen-wannabe girlfriend, Jordan (Kylie Bunbury), she breaks up with him without betraying any bitter recriminations. It's like these teens are from another planet where high school is devoid of any wild and crazy -- or even merely emotional -- students.
Naturally, such a sugary-sweet take on the last month of senior year is fine for tweens, because it's definitely not aimed at actual high schoolers. While teens are likely to laugh right along with the adults, a 10-year-old may not pick up on all of the clichés -- like when Jesse takes off his lumberjack flannel shirt to reveal muscular arms, or when he croons to Nova "When I'm about to kiss you, you'll know."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether this is a realistic depiction of the way teens behave. Why might the filmmakers decide to clean things up a bit? Does that make the movie any less appealing?
Is prom really as important as Nova -- and the movie -- makes it seem?
Who's the target audience for this movie? Is it teens or younger tweens and kids? How can you tell?
- In theaters: April 29, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: August 30, 2011
- Cast: Aimee Teegarden, DeVaughn Nixon, Nicholas Braun, Thomas McDonell
- Director: Joe Nussbaum
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: High School
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild language and a brief fight
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.