‘Prom’ lacks ambition - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

‘Prom’ lacks ambition

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Posted: Monday, May 2, 2011 5:00 pm | Updated: 4:52 pm, Thu Sep 13, 2012.

"Prom" is one of those movies where the audience can foretell everything that is going to happen. Unless you've never seen another high school movie, or high school television drama for that matter, none of the twists in "Prom" should come as a surprise. The film is light, corny and will not significantly alter anyone's life. For older audiences it will feel like the table scraps of superior high school movies. For those under the age of 12 who are too young to see "The Breakfast Club," however, "Prom" might feel like a truly adult moviegoing experience.

The film plays out like the "Crash" of prom movies, interweaving multiple stories about teenagers eagerly awaiting that life-changing night. The head of the prom committee is Nova, a tightly wound senior played by the promising rising star, Aimee Teegarden. When all the prom decorations are destroyed in a fire, Nova is forced to start from scratch with only three weeks remaining. Jesse, a rebel who always has his long hair in his face, played by Thomas McDonell, reluctantly gets roped into helping Nova. This commences the typical high school love story where a good girl falls for a tough guy. There really isn't anything special about their romance.

As corny and formulaic as "Prom" is, the film does have its share of redeeming values. There are several funny subplots involving a hopeless geek played by Nicholas Braun trying to get a date and an alleged stoner played by Joe Adler, who claims he has a Greek girlfriend flying in to be his prom date. It would have been easy for a film like this to throw a generic, over-the-top bully into the mix. Yet, the closet thing there is to a villain in "Prom" is a popular jock named Tyler, played by DeVaughn Nixon. He's essentially a nice guy aside from the fact that he's two-timing his girlfriend with a sophomore. Even though Tyler comes off as a jerk for his actions, he still kind of speaks true to the nature of some high school boys. It's pleasant to see a movie where everyone is likable or at least relatable. As a bonus, all the young actors in "Prom" actually look like they could be high school students.

But for every inspired moment that "Prom" offers, it gets bogged down by one too many clichés. Of course we get the inescapable montage where the girl tries on various prom dresses and the scene where we learn that the bad boy actually has a heart of gold. What really puts a damper on the film though is a classic misunderstanding that occurs in the third act that keeps the two main characters apart. We all know that the two are going to end up together in the end. So why prolong the inevitable?

Overall, I'm on the fence with "Prom." But due to a lack of ambition, I ultimately have to marginally decline the picture unless you're in elementary or middle school. While it's a sweet and pleasant effort, it fails to reach the heights of great contemporary high school movies like "Mean Girls" and "Easy A." In the realistic department though, "Prom" is a step up from Disney's last theatrical take on high school life, "High School Musical 3: Senior Year."

Nick Spake is a college student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at nspake@asu.edu.

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