Monday, May 2, 2011

Disney's 'Prom': Like your prom, minus the hangover

Last week I was invited to a screening of Disney's 'Prom,' although to be honest it wasn't exactly at the top of my list of movies to see. In fact, my 15-year-old didn't want to go at all, and my 12-year-old decided to come along and ask two of her friends only after she found out the screening was being held at a theater where they had previously seen a really cute boy working at the concession stand. I'm not making this up.

I had seen the previews of 'Prom' and guessed it might be mostly unwatchable for me - I was really going just to gauge the reaction of my daughter and her friends, the intended demographic. I was looking forward to just sitting in the dark for ninety minutes with my tub of buttery popcorn, and the girls were looking forward to taking a really long time ordering and paying for their popcorn while subtly flipping their hair.

As it turns out, we all enjoyed the movie. Not making that up, either.

While it's a given that a Disney prom will be a far cry from a real prom, that's exactly what makes this movie so charming. No one was sneaking off to chug champagne in the bathroom or smoke a clove cigarette behind the gym (you know who you are.) And while the movie has been criticized for its lack of edge, in this case the absence of cynicism and snark was a welcome relief - can't some nice kids just go to the prom and have a good time? I was relieved when no one ended up passed out under the bleachers or pregnant by the track coach at the end of the movie.

Another surprise - the filmmakers made a real attempt at making the movie inclusive and avoiding stereotypes for the most part. There's even an Asian girl who isn't president of the Math Club and who doesn't wear thick glasses or talk with an accent! The result is an eclectic, interesting cast of characters that still maintain their wholesome charm. (Even the resident stoner is never seen partaking in anything except for excessive snacking – he might just be high on Doritos.) Disney's 'Prom' is one where misfits, oddballs and the not-so-perfect – as well as the beautiful and near-perfect – can still have that magical night at the end of the school year. Corny, yes, but not such a bad message for tweens and teens to hear.

My daughter and her friends didn't end up seeing their Snack Stud behind the counter, but they'd forgotten about him by the time the movie started because of this guy, a Johnny Depp lookalike who plays the campus not-so-bad-boy with a heart of gold:

They deemed him 'hot' – and judging by the sighs and squeals when he took off his shirt to reveal his biceps - all the other tween girls did, too. (He wasn't completely bare chested - he still had on a tank top. This is Disney, after all.)

Unfortunately, Disney timed the release of 'Prom' horribly, as two days after seeing the movie the Royal Wedding took place and my daughter and her friends immediately forgot about both snack dude and Depp 2.0 and had moved on to this:

Man, tween girls are a fickle bunch. Take note, Disney.

Although, knowing them they're probably already working on a movie about William's rakish younger brother and his exploits at the wedding, maybe a sequel to one of their biggest hits. 'Prince Diaries' coming soon to a theater near you? My tween and her friends will be there.

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