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A group of teenagers get ready for their high school prom.
For more about Prom and the Prom Blu-ray release, see Prom Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 31, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Aimee Teegarden, Thomas McDonell, Nicholas Braun, Nolan Sotillo, Kylie Bunbury, Danielle Campbell
Director: Joe Nussbaum
» See full cast & crew
Prom Blu-ray Review
"I have to work my butt off just to try to get things to go my way! Everybody does..."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 31, 2011
Prom reeks of desperation. Reeks. It desperately wants to be The Breakfast Club. Pretty in Pink. Say Anything. It wants to capture a slice of the high school experience, to speak to an entire generation, to give 21st century teens characters they can relate to. But it also wants to play things safe; so safe that it takes a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to every bit of grime that might sully its G-rated spit shine. (Yes, I know it's PG. That's the most shocking thing about the movie.) Truth be told, it's so clumsy, so naive, so shallow, so detached from reality, so Hannah Montana Lite that it doesn't resonate on any level or, really, amount to much of anything. It just sort of lingers in the room, hangs there in the air like the brittle scent of a car wash air freshener, without any substance or sense of purpose. It's a few-weeks-in-the-life of the most one-dimensional, cookie cutter teens this side of the Disney Channel, and it doesn't even have the good decency to address, or even orbit, the issues and struggles today's teenagers face. Even the most God-fearing kids in an Evangelical youth group are saltier than the teens in Prom, its resident bad boy included, making it little more than the stuff of junior high dreams and mom-and-dad wish fulfillment.
Prom trots out a graduating class of senior high stereotypes. At the heart of the ensemble we have class president, prom committee chair and all around good girl Nova (Aimee Teegarden) and bad-boy teen dream on a motorcycle, Jesse (Thomas McDonell). Any guesses where those two are going to end up? From there, we get lovable, huggable invisi-nerd Lloyd (Nicholas Braun, who really should have been the star of a more character-driven film), self-centered ladies man and football captain Tyler (De'Vaughn Nixon), prom queen frontrunner and suspicious girlfriend Jordan (Kylie Bunbury), wise-beyond-his-years romantic Justin (Jared Kusnitz), girl-next-door sophomore Simone (Danielle Campbell), Princeton poster boy Brandon (Jonathan Keltz), Nova sidekicks Mei (Yin Chang) and Ali (Janelle Ortiz), aloof underachiever Rolo (Joe Adler, who in an alternate-reality version of the flick would be the bloodshot stoner), and semi-dorky sophomores Lucas (Nolan Sotillo) and Corey (Cameron Monaghan).
Unfortunately, they're not just stereotypes, they're '80s stereotypes. And one-note '80s stereotypes at that. Nova is a prim-n-proper prommer (say that five times fast) in the vein of Molly Ringwald's Claire, albeit with nothing in the way of a mean streak. Jesse is Judd Nelson's Bender, minus any legitimate deviant behavior. (There's even a Breakfast Club hallway chase starring the star-crossed lovers.) Lloyd is, well, John Cusack's Lloyd Dobler, just without the flaws, angst, kick boxing and tough-life-boundaries Cameron Crowe's boom box-hoisting teen had to deal with. And the list goes on. Tyler is a jock, but he's just a smug jock; a smug '80s jock to boot. Brandon is a whitewashed academic ripped from 1986, Justin is a cinematic contrivance summoned from 1983, Rolo is a pothead from 1987 (without the pot), and Lucas and Corey may as well be named Brian and Brian (even if neither actor is given the gold John Hughes handed Anthony Michael Hall). Bizarrely, though, each Prom teen shares their innermost thoughts, psychoanalyzes their behavior and their date's emotional state with startling precision, and approaches that perfect someone who will inevitably, fatefully, gratefully say "yes." Or predictably change their mind and break someone's heart in the days leading up to the big dance... only to say "yes" yet again.
The plot, if it can be called that, is single-sentence simple: After Nova and her prom committee's decorations accidentally catch on fire, she has to start from scratch with the help of -- surprise! -- Jesse, whom Principal Dunnan (Jere Burns) threatens to hold back from graduating if he doesn't comply. Subplots abound for each of the remaining characters, but there aren't any arcs worth mentioning. Well, except for dear, scene-swiping Lloyd. Bumbling, anxious, sweetly well-intentioned Lloyd is, hands down, the best prom-date-prowler of the bunch (Braun is easily the most talented actor in the ensemble) and his comedy of errors could have and should have been the center of an entire film. (A better film called, I don't know, Last Chance Lloyd. Oh wait, there's a ten-minute short film called Last Chance Lloyd in the disc's special features menu. Maybe I should give it a spin.) It's a shame that Braun and Lloyd are limited to a go-to gag -- a running bit of comic relief, cute as it is -- and a late scene between Braun and Sotillo (the film's finest hour). But it's also indicative of Prom's biggest problem. Screenwriter Katie Wech and director Joe Nussbaum splits their focus between so many characters, so many separate but equal storylines, and so many romantic pursuits that they don't have time to develop or dissect anyone or anything. Of course, seeing as the filmmakers are so infuriatingly eager to overlook the realities of modern teen life and avoid material that might jeopardize Prom's all-ages fairy tale, maybe that's a good thing.
No, I don't think a high school movie necessarily needs to breach a PG-rating to be relevant. And no, I'm not suggesting family-friendly films like Prom need to sex things up to suit some armchair critic's approximation of life through his narrow (perhaps cynical) world view. What I am suggesting, though, is that a film has to speak to someone, it has to say something, and it has to have something worth saying, especially if it wants to mean anything to the audience it's supposedly targeting. Prom won't appeal to upperclassmen; they'll see through its bubblegum nonsense in a second. It won't be remembered ten, twenty or thirty years from now like the genre greats; I doubt anyone over sixteen will remember it next month, let alone next year. It isn't going to ring true to any students beyond the tenth grade, regardless of what kind of school they attend; private schools, inner city schools, stuffy suburban schools and backwoods country schools included. Nova and her classmates are stowaways from a completely different decade, a completely different culture, a completely different world where detention is scandalous and motorcycling non-conformists are the boy-toy du jour. (Clubbing is mentioned. Twice. It's scintillating.) If all of that sounds harsh, then by all means give Prom a rent and see for yourself. But if you're hoping to use it to connect with your kids, be warned: there's a good chance they'll think you're as out of touch and deluded as Nussbaum and Wech, whether they tell you so or not.
Prom Blu-ray, Video Quality
Shot with Arriflex Alexa HD cameras, Prom's 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer is as pretty-in-pink as the film gets. Its mildly shaky, sun-streaked docu-palette isn't always bursting with color -- quite the opposite actually -- but its subdued primaries, natural skintones and wholesome (albeit at-times muted) black levels are lovely, and more lifelike than the teens they bring to life. Detail is also strong and, above all, convincing. It isn't hair-splittingly crisp or hyper-sharpened to a fault. That isn't the look cinematographer Byron Shah is after anyway. It's just clean, refined and accurately resolved. Delineation is forthcoming and contrast is consistent; clarity is unyielding and ringing is nowhere to be found. Moreover, significant artifacting, aliasing, smearing and crush are stuck in detention, and some minor banding (mainly limited to Nova and Jesse's motorcycle excursion) is the only real issue of note. Even then, it isn't an eyesore, just the sort of thing we videophiles tend to jot down in our mental notes. All in all, Prom earns a well-deserved "A." Well, in at least one of its classes.
Prom Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Prom's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track doesn't live up to its potential. There's nothing exactly wrong with the mix, mind you, but the film's sound design is so flat, so two-dimensional that it doesn't leave any lasting impression. Dialogue is clear and intelligible, but rather listless; rear speaker activity is spunky, albeit only when the soundtrack kicks in; and LFE output is nervy and hesitant, tip-toeing when it should makes its presence known. Directionality isn't engaging (or a factor 90% of the time), pans lack grace and dynamics just sit there, unwilling to participate. Again, most, if not all, of the track's shortcomings come down to the film's pedestrian, front-heavy soundscape. But Prom's sonics never match its visuals. They don't even come close.
Prom Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Prom limps onto the dance floor with fifty-minutes of special features, half of which are music videos. A "High School Reunion" cast commentary, interviews with the filmmakers or a less superficial production overview would have gone a long, long way.
Prom Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
My advice? Ask out another film. Prom is shallow, superficial and tries too hard, too late to leave its stamp on the genre. There are a few great little scenes near the end -- one with Braun and Sotillo, one with Teegarden and Breaking Bad's Dean Norris -- but none of it quite makes up for the lightweight prom-pop that proceeds them. Disney's Blu-ray release barely scores passing marks. Its video transfer excels, but its DTS-HD Master Audio track eeks by and its supplemental package fails. C minus.
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Prom Blu-ray, News and Updates
• $5 Off Coupon for Disney's Prom (Expired) - August 26, 2011
Disney is currently offering a $5 off coupon for the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of Prom. The 2011 teen film stars Aimee Teegarden and Thomas McDonellis and is set to hit retail on August 30th. The deal is valid until September 5th, 2011.
• Exclusive Giveaway: Prom - August 19, 2011
Blu-ray.com and Walt Disney Home Entertainment are offering three Blu-ray.com members the opportunity to win a Blu-ray copy of Disney's Prom, starring Aimee Teegarden, Thomas McDonell, Yin Chang and De'Vaughn Nixon.
• Prom Blu-ray - June 24, 2011
From Walt Disney Pictures and director Joe Nussbaum (Sydney White) comes the high-school dramedy Prom on Blu-ray this summer. Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights) and Cameron Monaghan (Shameless) lead an ensemble cast in this film about a group of teenagers preparing ...
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