It’s Christmas, so it is the season for movie studios to release musicals. Also, the season for James Corden to turn up in them as well and make the proceedings as painful as possible (See last years Cats). This is year is no different as Netflix have released The Prom to the service starring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannells and sigh James Corden.
Dee Dee Allen (three-time Academy Award winner) 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.
The Prom for the most part is really fun and likeable, but is let down by two issues, the first is, that it’s simply too long. clocking in at 130 minutes, it simply flags in certain parts when the musical numbers aren’t headlining. The second and most importantly is the presence of James Corden. His role as the Barry Glickman is downright offensive and plain awful everytime he’s on screen, which unfortunately is about 75% of the films run time. His portrayal of a very camp gay man in this day and age, when there are plenty of gay actors who could have represented this role a lot better is beyond belief. Why cast Corden, who also challenges Kevin Costner in the stakes for worst accent in a film, is here in nothing short of woeful. Especially when you have Andrew Rannells, who criminally is robbed of screen time throughout despite having the best song and dance numbers in the film. There’s a moment at the beginning of the film when Corden’s Glickman is complaining about Rannells Trent constantly going on about everything and its painful to listen to, well I don’t know whether he was foreshadowing his performance or simply warning the viewers of what he was about to unleash on them, but either way, the films failings rest squarely and unfortunately for the film on Cordens shoulders.
However brighter moments of The Prom are Rannells tearing around being absolutely hilarious and having the as mentioned the best song and dance routine in the film (Love Thy Neighbour). Meryl Streep turns in a brilliant Norma Desmond-esque performance. Nicole Kidman is simply amazing and the young cast are all superb. Keegan-Michael Key is also a revelation as well as he adds singing to his vast resume of things he excels at. The songs are bright, bouncy and enjoyable, the whole thing is a glorious collision of colours and enthusiam. The younger cast dance numbers run at such a pace that you’ll be worn out just watching them and Jo Ellen Pellman in her first role has a very exciting future ahead of her. By the finale Kerry Washington’s performance will be unlikely to leave anyone watching on the sofa with a dry eye. It should have been a slam dunk smash hit. So it’s a real shame that the focus that The Prom will receive is on James Corden.
The Prom is a film like the films protagonist, you really, really want to succeed and it almost does, if it wasn’t for the interference from a self serving actor only interested in their self importance and popularity. But unlike the film, it won’t end well for The Prom. Thanks James.
The Prom is availble to watch on Netflix from the 11th December.