"A girlfriend of mine didn't go to hers [prom]. Once in a while she gets a terrible feeling, like something is missing. She checks her purse and her keys, she counts her kids, she goes crazy. And then she realizes that nothing is missing. She decided it was side effects from skipping the prom." - Iona in Pretty in Pink
For decades, Hollywood has been building up this idea of prom being the pinnacle of adolescence. The above quote comes from one of my favorite movies, Pretty in Pink, which back in the '80s solidified prom as a significant right of passage. Since that time, there's been no shortage of movies about the supposedly spectacular event. In Disney's Prom, the traditional (and perhaps accurate) images of sex, drugs and underage drinking take a back seat to teenage innocence.
It's apparent from the beginning of the film that Prom doesn't aim to reel in viewers who've ever been to an actual prom. The film builds up the spectacle of the night for 'tween girls in a way only Disney can. Not one character tries to get laid, no one brings in a flask, and there's one character, named Rolo (yes, like the candy), who appears to be stoned the whole time, but never lights up or makes even a mention of it. Yes, there are kids who exemplify the Disney ideal of a teenager and watch movies after prom instead of doing a keg stand, but to completely ignore the temptations and pressures associated with prom seems far-fetched.
While it's understandable why Disney would want to make a film that steers clear of teen movie standards like the post-prom drunk fest and dorky dudes trying to get laid, it also could have been done in a tame yet realistic way. Take Pretty in Pink, for example. It's not about the party or illicit temptations; it has plot and character development unlike Prom. Perhaps Disney should have taken a more John Hughes-ian approach rather than pushing unrealistic ideals of innocence.
As someone who grew up on teen movies like American Pie and She's All That, it's strange to watch a film in which all of the characters dancing at prom have at least a balloon's width distance between them. Not only that, but any time characters kissed, the kiss was closed-mouthed, further exemplifying the Disney dream of how teenagers should act. While Prom isn't the worst movie I've ever seen, it is the worst movie about prom I've ever seen.
Starring Aimee Teegarden, Thomas McDonell
Directed by Joe Nussbaum