A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the overwhelmingly positive core message of The Prom -- which is based on the Broadway musical and directed by the creator of Glee -- is to accept others, regardless of their sexuality, wealth, celebrity, or heritage. But to get to that point, both adult and teen characters must work through their own prejudices and problems, resulting in some emotionally intense scenes, especially between parents and their gay kids. Still, the film is ultimately more comedy and music than drama. Midwest small-towners and New York celebrities find common ground, although both are stereotyped. Several characters are gay, with some stereotyping about what that means. Some mature themes come up in lyrics, including Christian messages, masturbation, virginity, narcissism, life's disappointments, and wanting to love whoever you please. Adults drink, and one character talks about controlling her "day drinking." Language includes "s--t," "bulls--t," "ass," "damn," "hell," "crappy," "humping," "MILF," and "castrated." Meryl Streep, James Corden, and Kerry Washington co-star.
- Parents say
- Kids say
Is it any good?
Check your cynicism at the door before attending The Prom, a teen coming-out tale stuffed into a glitzy tux and bedazzled with schmaltz and splashy musical numbers. If you do, you'll be rewarded with 132 minutes of undemanding and giddily self-aware entertainment. The all-star cast looks to be having a blast barging into rooms, scarves billowing, belting tongue-in-cheek lyrics about setting the cow-tipping Midwest folk straight and sharing the true message of Christianity. Don't fear: The film forces the pompous New York libs to face their biases too. Leave it to Indianapolis-born director Ryan Murphy, creator of Glee, to pay gently teasing tribute to the deep human necessity for the arts, the empathy-creating nature of high school drama clubs, and the ultimately good folks of Indiana (especially the moms) and Broadway all in one film.
The Prom serves as a golden-hued showcase for Streep and Corden, who primp, strut, sing, dance and convincingly emote in scenes where their characters are obliged to reckon with their own shortcomings and pasts. Kidman oddly fades into the background in a subdued performance that may be fitting for her role as the long-overlooked chorus girl but feels less intentional than that. Key, Pellman, Washington, and the multifaceted Rannells all have their own starring moments or big numbers. As its many wink-wink lyrics suggest, this film knows some will suffer it like choking on a "syrup-soaked American flag." Others will welcome the escape from a more contentious reality to this fictionally wholesome place where people randomly break into song, unquestioningly dance in unison, and all just get along.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about their own experiences with intolerance, as characters grapple with in The Prom. What can you do to promote acceptance of all people?
What stereotypes does the film show the Broadway celebrities have of Midwesterners? Are the theater folk stereotyped as well?
Which musical number was your favorite, and why?
How does Emma show courage? Why is this an important quality?
- In theaters: December 4, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: December 11, 2020
- Cast: Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman
- Director: Ryan Murphy
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Musical
- Topics: Activism, Arts and Dance, High School, Music and Sing-Along
- Character strengths: Courage
- Run time: 132 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, some suggestive/sexual references and language
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: March 19, 2021
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