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The Prom Movie Review - Prom Should Be For Everyone

A singing, dancing celebration of equality.

Reviewed by on Dec 09, 2020
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw The Prom on Netflix. It’s a star-packed musical celebration of equal rights in high school no matter who you love and want to take to prom. It’s a bit long but the heart is there. Read our movie review!



In The Prom, when New York stage stars Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden) flop miserably in their new show, they search for a celebrity “cause” to give them the publicity uplift they need.  Meanwhile, in small-town, conservative Indiana, high school student Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman) is told she can’t ask her girlfriend Alyssa Greene (Ariana DeBose) to prom. Her mom Mrs. Greene (Kerry Washington) has seen to it that the PTA simply won’t stand for it. With fellow down and depressed Broadway “stars” Angie Dickinson (Nicole Kidman) and Trent Oliver (Andrew Rannells) in tow, Dee Dee and Barry head to Indiana to help give Emma a prom where she can be herself.

Eleanor musical is a failureEleanor musical is a failureCourtesy of Netflix

Prom Rules and Broadway Failure

At Madison High in Indiana, the PTA, frightened that there may be legal problems, vote to ban same sex couples at their prom even though the Principal Tom Hawkins (Keegan-Michael Key) disagrees. 

Principal Tom Hawkins (Keegan-Michael Key) is a big Dee Dee fanPrincipal Tom Hawkins is a big Dee Dee fanCourtesy of Netflix

One girl Emma wants to ask her secret girlfriend. This could lead to trouble. In New York City, stage star Dee Dee Allen and her less famous co-star Barry Glickman try to make a musical about Eleanor Roosevelt a hit but it’s a horrible flop.

Dee Dee (Meryl Streep) and Barry star in Eleanor...which bombsDee Dee and Barry star in Eleanor...which bombsCourtesy of Netflix

They commiserate with down-and-out stage actors Trent Oliver, now working as a bartender and chorus girl turned semi star Angie Dickinson. They all decide to find a worthy cause that can bring them positive attention. Upon reading about Emma’s problem, they decide to join a busload of performers passing through Indiana on a tour to check it out.

The New York actors celebrate going to help EmmaThe New York actors celebrate going to help EmmaCourtesy of Netflix

Emma at School

At the high school, cheerleaders make fun of Emma and are angry when they all learn that prom is now cancelled. They consider it Emma’s fault. Only one of them Alyssa, seems to be way less critical. The Principal tells Emma she has a civil rights case and must pursue it. He will back her up. The state’s Attorney General tells the school to hold an inclusive prom and the PTA meets again. Alyssa, Student Council Pres. says the prom should be inclusive but, prejudiced, Mrs. Greene won’t have it. Suddenly, Barry, Dee Dee and friends burst into the room and burst into song about equality and the fact that they are here to champion Emma. Mr. Hawkins is blown away. He’s a huge fan of Dee Dee. Emma meets with her secret date, Alyssa who will have to go against her mom when they reveal their relationship if there even is a prom.

Dee Dee (Meryl Streep) bursts into the PTA meeting singingDee Dee bursts into the PTA meeting singingCourtesy of Netflix

Prom is Back On!

Even though the New York gang’s attempt to put on a show to benefit Emma bombs, an “inclusive” prom will now happen. Emma thanks them and is thrilled. Cheerleaders Shelby (Sofia Deler) and Kaylee (Logan Riley Hassel) overhear Emma and Alyssa talking about their date for prom. After Barry helps Emma shop for a perfect dress, she goes to the gym to meet Alyssa but nobody is there!

Barry (James Corden), Angie (Nicole Kidman), Dee Dee (Meryl Streep) and Hawkins (Keegan-Michael Key) think Emma looks great!Barry, Angie, Dee Dee and Hawkins think Emma looks great!Courtesy of Netflix

It appears that prom has been moved! Mrs. Greene’s doing no doubt. Alyssa leaves Emma alone. She finally phones and is sorry but her mother has forced her to go to the new prom venue, Kaylee and Shelby know and Alyssa is too afraid to make mom angry. Emma is shattered.

Do We Fight Back?

Dee Dee and friends want Emma to go on TV to fight back but, after encouragement from Angie, she has decided to fight back her own way.

Angie (Nicole Kidman)  cheers Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) up after Alyssa bails outAngie cheers Emma up after Alyssa bails outCourtesy of Netflix

Meanwhile, Dee Dee is determined to win the love of Hawkins even though he has learned that she and her friends didn’t come here to help Emma but to gain positive publicity. Emma breaks up with Alyssa while Trevor semi-convinces the popular kids to practice what they preach and love their neighbor despite differences. Will Emma turn things around…her way? Will Dee Dee and Hawkins be a couple? Will Alyssa ever stand up to her mom? Will Emma ever enjoy a prom?

Alyssa and Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) (front) finally enjoy a promAlyssa and Emma (front) finally enjoy a promCourtesy of Netflix

Wrapping Up

The Prom, following the Broadway musical on which it is based, is too long. Several scenes come off as padding and it’s maybe too on-the-nose preachy but fun, star-packed performances and catchy music support a badly needed message: include everyone, we’re all in this together and love is a good thing, no matter what form it takes. In these times of division, these lessons make The Prom well worth watching. The price of self-centered and “snooty” celebrity is also explored.

Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) and Alyssa (Ariana DeBose) are a happy coupleEmma and Alyssa are a happy coupleCourtesy of Netflix

Way more intense and less superficial than High School Musical but with the same energy, The Prom features characters that you, or someone you know, will relate to. The message of inclusion is laid on very thickly and nothing is held back. This might alienate some audience members but most will find something entertaining and heart-warming in the story and performances even if some of the stars are better than others in their roles.

Major cast with their director Ryan Murphy (in grey cap)Major cast with their director Ryan Murphy (in grey cap)Courtesy of Netflix

Songs are all entertaining and some like Emma’s “Just Breathe” and the all-inclusive “Unruly Heart” are truly touching. Nicole Kidman’s “Zazz” is upbeat and fun.

Angie (Nicole Kidman) teaches Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) to dance with Zazz!Angie teaches Emma to dance with Zazz!Courtesy of Netflix

Although not perfect, The Prom presents a plight some teens still face and does so in an overall enjoyable, less heavy manner. We can award four stars.

The Prom Movie Rating: 4

See The Prom streaming on Netflix December 11th