My daughter’s reaction to the idea of her father watching Disney’s Prom by himself horrified her. “That’s just wrong,” she told me. Thus, I waited until the 12-year-old cleared her schedule so that the two of us could watch the movie together. I’m glad I did. As innocuous as Prom is, I certainly enjoyed it more hanging out with her and seeing her reaction than I would have on my own. This is one movie aimed squarely at girls in the early teen years. Call it John Hughes-lite, a primer for more dramatic films with tougher ratings than the Disney mandated PG. Certainly better produced than most of Disney’s made for TV movies, and slightly edgier, this is a harmless film that most parents will have fun watching with their kids. Yes, even the boys will enjoy Prom, too.
Aimee Teegarden, an emerging star whose pedigree includes Friday Night Lights, stars as Nova, an overachieving student in a Michigan high school who has just completed planning her upcoming prom. School has been Nova’s life for twelve years, leaving her little room for a boyfriend. Still, knowing that she’s put together the perfect prom for her fellow students gives her satisfaction. That, and the fact that she’s got a full ride to Georgetown waiting for her in the fall. Nova’s dream prom falls apart when the school storage barn burns to the ground, destroying everything she and the prom committee have been working on for months. With just a few weeks to spare, Nova wonders how she’ll ever put the prom back together, especially when her committee walks out on her. Enter Jesse (Thomas McDonell), the school bad boy with a heart. He’s a bad boy because he rides a motorcycle and argues with the principal. He has heart because he comes from a broken home and helps take care of his little brother. If I sound a touch sarcastic, I am. But I’m not the intended audience and my daughter certainly enjoyed this portion of the story.
Jesse and Nova are thrown together by the principal to redo the prom. Before you can mutter Ringwald and Nelson, these two opposites start to attract and fall in love. Of course, there are plenty of obstacles as they move along the path to the textbook ending, including Nova’s misguided father butting his head into her affairs. But really, did you think everything wasn’t going to work out?
Nova’s story is the primary plot, but Prom also follows the love lives of three other couples. Lucas (Nolan Sotillo) is an underclassmen who is head over heels for Simone (Danielle Campbell). These cute lovebirds seem destined for heaven, except that Simone has feelings for Tyler (De’Vaughn Nixon), the captain of the lacrosse team. Simone and Tyler kissed once, but then she found out he still had a girlfriend and told him to shove off. Throughout the movie, Tyler, a grade ‘A’ jerk, pursues Simone, even though she continues tells him “no.” When Tyler’s girlfriend breaks up with him (because he’s a cheating liar), Tyler convinces Simone to blow off Lucas and go to prom with him. Poor Lucas. Luckily he has his best friend, Corey (Cameron Monaghan), to lift him up.
Elsewhere, Mei (Yin Chang) struggles with telling her boyfriend, Justin (Jonathan Keltz), that their plans to attend the University of Michigan aren’t going to happen because she’s enrolled at a fashion school in New York. In one of the most non-Disney moments of the film, this couple, who have been together since the 8th grade, reach the adult decision to do their best to stay together, but if it doesn’t work out, they’ll always remain friends. As a parent, and as a dude who gave the old college try to a long distance relationship, I appreciated this message. Sometimes your first love is your only love, and other times there are other loves waiting for you. Not that I could discuss this with my daughter because she would have told me to “shut up” and leave of the room.
Overall, Prom is light and innocent. The kids kiss, Jess gets into a fist fight (but no blood, strange) and almost everyone has decent values. I say almost everyone because Tyler is selfish and feels absolutely no regret for be irresponsible and causing the fire that nearly destroys the prom. The movie is cute and has a few laugh out loud moments for the grown ups who may see a little of themselves in the characters of the film.
The Blu-ray/DVD combo edition of the movie has plenty of bonus features (most of them on the Blu-ray). Bloopers, deleted scenes and seven music videos are the best (the sondtrack, by the way, is very good), along with a featurette, “Putting on Prom,” which is informative and enjoyable. The Blu-ray also features the short, “Last Chance Lloyd,” which follows one of the characters as he tries to get a date for the prom.