Directed by Joe Nussbaum. Starring Aimee Teegarden, Thomas McDonell, DeVaughn Nixon, Danielle Campbell, Yin Chang, Jared Kusnitz. (2011, PG, 103 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., April 29, 2011
Prom is the province of 17- to 18-year-olds, but this Prom is pitched at a much younger audience – the tween set that wants only to sigh over which way that dreamy boy will pop the question or whether to go sequins or ruffles (or both!) with the dress. And sigh they will: At the sneak screening, a gaggle of girls emoted loudly at every near-miss at a closed-mouth kiss. Honestly, I don’t know how this Disney film didn’t net a G rating; maybe it was the film’s brief peek at the “bad boy” brooder in a wifebeater that tipped it into PG country? Friday Night Lights’ expert sulker Teegarden wipes clean her signature sullenness as Nova, the strait-laced, prom-planning chair and rare character to warrant a full-blooded portrait in this ensemble built on stock types – the baller, the space cadet, the virginal music geek. (On the subject of the ungainly but hyperarticulate wallflower named Lloyd (played by Nicholas Braun), Cameron Crowe and John Cusack should consider a joint defamation suit.) Nova has a romantic notion of prom – and it’s hard to argue with the pure-heartedness of her mission to bring together disparate cliques for a night to remember – even as the film is comically myopic about the real confusions and conundrums attending that storied night. That, disappointingly, is the only cause for laughter here: Prom is too sanitized to mine any hijinks from the fertile ground of modern teen life and too feckless to furrow the messy, embarrassing stuff that shapes character and makes for the real nights to savor. These are boys and girls on their very best behavior, which doesn’t sound like any prom you or I remember.