Each week, the Castle in the Pie staff and friends choose a movie to watch at the local dollar theater. The movies cost $1.50 — go figure. Fair warning to you all, the following is extremely silly and includes many spoilers.
[Editor's Note: This week, instead of a discussion, both Jeff and I posted our own review.]
For this week’s Dollar Movie Theater, the Castle in the Pie staff decided to see Prom. This, like many other decisions Castle in the Pie makes, was a mistake. Joined only by a gaggle of tweens and some older folks with a similar amount of snark, we set forth to endure one of the most brutally painful movies in recent memory.
Prom is Disney’s latest attempt to assure viewers that they have no idea what high school, teenagers, or even people in general are like. The movie centers around Nova, a girl who, even though she has a scholarship to Georgetown and a bright future ahead of her, is thoroughly obsessed with making her high school prom, like, the ONE PROM TO RULE THEM ALL. All because, as she explains in the opening sequence of the film, prom is a time where everyone can forget their differences for one magical night and join together in a prom orgy to spread free love and understanding. Or something like that.
Her love interest in the film is the school’s motorcycle ridin’ bad boy, Jesse, who must have been held back quite a few times, because he’s seriously 8 years too old for this movie. Jesse doesn’t get prom. He thinks it’s stupid. Then, the principal decides to punish Jesse for skipping last period by forcing him to help Nova create SuperPROM 2000 (Actually the prom theme is “Starry Night”). Jesse lives as a “poor” kid from the wrong side of the tracks, whose dad left him and his younger brother to fend for themselves in their nice suburban neighborhood home. Jesse’s mom works as a (gasp!) waitress which, as the movie informs us, is the most undignified of all jobs.
Jesse and Nova — cruelly forced to help each other create star-shaped balloons and weird, abstract decorations — hate each other. But, as everyone knows, true love only spawns from the deepest of hatreds. Thus, Nova finds herself inexplicably attracted to Jesse’s male-model looks and his not-so-rugged wife beater, while Jesse finds himself charmed by Nova’s incessant entitled rants and endless collection of mini-jackets.
This film is also littered with sub plots. Since I’m a nice person, I broke them down for you:
Sub Plot 1: Young Ray Romano (not his real name) decides that he’s tired of being a nerd. He asks every woman in his school, indiscriminately, if she’ll go to prom with him. Womankind rejects him.
Sub Plot 2: The high school quarterback is a jerk. He does mean things to people.
Sub Plot 3: Two sophomores goof around. They talk about music (“Top five worst band breakups ever?” “Oasis, The Kinks…”). One sophomore falls in luuuurve with a girl, causing him to neglect his friend. Friend makes sad faces.
Sub Plot 4: Minority couple has been dating for many years. Girl in minority couple is tormented by the fact that she got into a good college, and will have to leave her boyfriend. She acts very distraught. Boy thinks girl has PMS.
This movie is basically just another sanitized, squeaky-clean Disney movie, with nothing interesting to say and not a single moment of originality. I think the message was something along the lines of “Don’t judge people for being poor, because they might still be nice people who are poor”, or “Prom is the end-all-be-all of your life. If you screw this up, you might as well go live with the lepers”. Or, maybe “Smart girls who go to good colleges really need cute boys or else they get all sad”. I really couldn’t tell you since I was so distracted by the characters’ shiny lips and perfect, ringlet curls (In high school my hair was a mysterious shroud of buoyant fluff and I smelled like lemons and dog shampoo). On top of that, the dialogue is so mind-bogglingly dumb that the screenwriters must have never actually encountered another human before in their twelve years of existence.
But hell, what do I know?
I didn’t go to prom.
[See Jeff's review after the jump]
Prom? That was the question emblazoned — no, make that branded with a cattle iron — on the prepubescent, Disnified (redundancy alert) minds of seniors at Anytown High in the weeks leading up to Prom, Disney’s latest generational cyanide pill for today’s young, impressionable minds whisked by Angry Birds and/or whipped by Runescape. As I grappled with the question, “Prom?” like a B-movie actor pretend-scuffling with an Ed Wood octopus, I recalled my “halcyon days” in high school as an aspiring goth/codegeek/ultra-cynical Simpsons acolyte. I quickly remembered that those were more appropriately my “penumbra” days, as I presently do not require gazelle speed and ratlike cunning to escape imminent physical thrashings, nor am I subject to physical thrashings at all (psychological and emotional thrashings, however…).
Afterwards, I then remembered that given my iconoclastic and downright awkward childhood, the following questions were of far greater import:
Question #7 on Exam #2 of Mr. Gilfillan’s Computer Programming I class, September 1995
Question asked regularly to prevent my delinquent chemistry lab partner from fastening Bunsen Burner onto fitted right horn attachment against slackers as part of his new superhero identity, “Wolf-Ram”
Question asked in my own mind when attempting to discern the one “Wooo!” I received upon being handed my diploma at graduation
Suggested answer in attempting to understand why any given substitute teacher would either mutter unintelligibly in a cradle in one corner of the classroom, or would reenact a mini Mai Lai massacre for educational purposes by whipping a chair and/or table at smallest, most helpless person in class.
So yes, I surmised that I was NOT the target audience of Prom due to my status as a sort of public school war baby. The real question for me was “Would I be happy or sad if Carrie used her psychic-powers to brutally incinerate these people?” The answer: Extraordinarily happy, though I would be slightly happier if buckets of blood were used to extinguish the flames emanating from all of the teens, as a sort of reverse Carrie or alternative British breakfast.
So why the hate for these soy milquetoast children? Because of an early line in the movie which describes prom as (I paraphrase here) the one night in high school where everyone, regardless of which group they belong to or one’s popularity, is equal, and social boundaries — for this most sacred of nights — do not matter.
Seriously? Who comes up with this lilac-scented excrement?
If anything, prom night forever inculcates into every high schooler the bestial separation between sexpot and sex-not, cool and fool, athlete and mathlete, A student and AA member, marching band member and band camp member (heh heh), etc. In that respect, it may have been a sanctified benediction for me to have skipped out on prom night to watch Seinfeld, scarf down Cool Ranch Doritos and laugh heartily with loved ones for no particular reason whatever — prom night did not define me in any way, and perhaps more importantly, my lack of attendance insured that I would not be hastily planning a wedding ceremony with proto-Snooki in 9 months while occasionally dealing with my very own bout of morning sickness.
Prom can be classified as an ensemble movie, a type of movie first envisioned by the legendary Robert Altman. However, if Altman went to Hell (and provided Hell, or some other Hades equivalent exists), then he would be deeply immersed in the production process of an endless number of Prom sequels, personally handling every directorial decision, from key grip to stand-ins, with a diseased, tortured gusto. The story flutters with focus-group approved equanimity amongst the trials and tribu…no, these people are far too squeaky clean to have both trials and tribulations…just trials — of a cross-section of whitewashed teenage shells, as they apparently forgo their entire lives and school vandalism laws in the two week run-up to the senior prom. Guys conjure up their most convincing concoction of love potion no. 9 while summoning all of the romantic originality they can muster to ask their sweetheart to the senior prom. Oddly enough, the ingredients for the love potion no. 9 conjured up by the guys in Prom must have been strikingly similar, as each of their romantic dalliances features an identical monochromatic sign reading “Prom?”. Perhaps the guys swigged from a tainted bottle of Hennigan’s swiped from a seedy yet popular liquor store just outside of the school zone before going through with their respective dalliances?
The major story in the movie is centered around Nova (Aimee Teagarden), an overworked yet peppy girl who initially gets the entirety of the prom preparation and planning dumped upon her. Via baffling dictum (from the principal…or, lead screenwriter?), she is forced to share the planning responsibilities with kid-tested, mother-approved bicycle rebel Thomas (Jesse Richter). Though initially meshing like essential oils and Fiji water, the two fall for each other just in time for the prom. Particular commendation goes to Thomas when he fixed the fountain and turned into Jesus — TWICE!. Another prominent story features Simone’s (Danielle Campbell) excoriating turmoil as she struggles mightily to choose between a good-natured but geeky music aficionado and a popular, haughty jock. A long-term couple dealing with their impending separation to different colleges and a frog-throated guy who asks everyone to prom, goes without a date, and falls for trailer-trash Avril Lavigne round out the more interesting plotlines. By “interesting”, I mean that Percocet may not be required.
OK, so I seriously disliked this movie. Honestly, it’s probably because of my negative experiences associated with prom and the fact that this movie refuses to delve into any sort of realism. Then again, it is a Disney film and, as we know, their animated films are the ones that depict the most realism. If you want to witness the miracle of boardroom writing, then Prom is for you. If you want to watch a sanitized, slice-of-life high school flick with no possibility of complications or darkness, Prom is definitely for you. If, however, you prefer the ambiguity and shades of grey infusing reality, then I have a simple suggestion — go to school tomorrow.