I am a sucker for musical, underdog, fighting the good fight, and living your authentic life stories. And THE PROM, now streaming on Netflix, is all that and more.
Here’s the synopsis: Dee Dee Allen (three-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (Tony Award winnerJames Corden) are New York City stage stars with a crisis on their hands: their expensive new Broadway show is a major flop that has suddenly flatlined their careers. Meanwhile, in small-town Indiana, high school student Emma Nolan (newcomer Jo Ellen Pellman) is experiencing a very different kind of heartbreak: despite the support of the high school principal (Keegan-Michael Key), the head of the PTA (Kerry Washington) has banned her from attending the prom with her girlfriend, Alyssa (Ariana DeBose). When Dee Dee and Barry decide that Emma’s predicament is the perfect cause to help resurrect their public images, they hit the road with Angie (Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman) and Trent (Andrew Rannells), another pair of cynical actors looking for a professional lift. But when their self-absorbed celebrity activism unexpectedly backfires, the foursome find their own lives upended as they rally to give Emma a night where she can truly celebrate who she is.
Even with an all-star, A-list lineup, it is Jo Ellen Pellman’s magnetic performance as Emma that really drew me in while watching. I ached for her as a recently out teen who was kicked out of her bigoted Indiana home, and I rooted for her to have the prom that every young person deserves.
I also love that Broadway star Ariana DeBose was cast as Emma’s girlfriend Alyssa, giving queer, Brown girl representation on-screen.
Yes, there is a lot of emotional punching – with tolerance, inclusivity, and ability to change messaging throughout. But it’s a feel-good story with great music and, to be honest, the cast looks like it had a blast filming the routines – highlights for me are Streep belting during a musical number and Kidman showing off her (Bob) Fosse moves.
I believe “The Prom” is a luxurious affair, in standard Ryan Murphy directed/produced fashion. It’s a highly engaging and entertaining watch, albeit a bit campy but fun, and a must-see if you’re a fan of musicals and missed the original production in the theater.
I rate it 3.5 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
THE PROM is now streaming on Netflix.
Until next thought, Thomasena