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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Love comes in all forms. Put others' interests above your own. Gay teens need and deserve the acceptance of their peers, parents, and community. Love thy neighbor. Theater provides a necessary escape from real life. Human connection can cross social, racial, sexual, gender, class, and geographical boundaries.
Positive Role Models
The Broadway celebrities take on a cause for selfish reasons, but wind up caring deeply, making a difference. They begin as narcissists and end as generous facilitators. Parents and teens treat a lesbian teen cruelly, just as a man recalls he was treated as a gay teen in the 1990s, but they repent their mean behavior. Emma shows courage in coming out in a conservative community. Mrs. Greene puts a lot of pressure on her daughter to be perfect but discovers she'll love and accept her daughter however she is. Some stereotypes about gay people, small-town citizens, New York theater folks.
Violence & Scariness
Emotional abuse is discussed in an adult and a teen who are both scarred by being kicked out of their homes by parents unable to accept their homosexuality. A newspaper reviewer suggests it would be better to hang yourself than to go see a particular play.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A teen wants to take her girlfriend (who isn't yet out) to the prom; they share a kiss. Another couple kisses briefly. Lyrics to one song talk about boys getting "overheated," girls looking "hot," and "even I would do me." Another song mentions virginity and masturbation. Boys perform elaborate "prom-posals" at school. Dee Dee alludes to her ex-husband's affairs.
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Words include "s--t," "bulls--t," "ass," "damn," "hell," and "crappy." Insults range from "jerk" and "idiot" to "butchy" and "bigoted monsters." Mention of "humping," "MILF," and a review that "castrated" an actor. People say "God," "oh my God," "for God's sake," and "Jesus."
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Products & Purchases
Middle America's Kmart, Sears, and Applebee's are contrasted with New York's Saks and Sardi's. The celebrities work on Broadway, studied at Juilliard, win Tony Awards, have money and houses in the Hamptons. Also mentioned or shown: Greyhound, Google, Instagram, YouTube, Orbitz, Spanx, MacBook, Haagen-Dazs, McDonald's, and various mall stores.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Angie is constantly drinking or talking about drinking and controlling her "day drinking." She gives Trent a pill that she slyly notes will treat motion sickness "and everything else." The adult celebrities drown their sorrows and celebrate with alcohol. Trent works as a bartender between gigs. A lyric mentions Xanax.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.