Back to IndieWire

Prom Early Reviews: Formulaic Tween Fantasy Flick or Stereotype Reinforcer?

Prom Early Reviews: Formulaic Tween Fantasy Flick or Stereotype Reinforcer?

Thompson on Hollywood

Disney’s Prom opens April 29. It stars Aimee Teegarden, Thomas McDonell, DeVaugh Nixon, Danielle Campbell, Yin Chang, Nolan Sotillo, and more. Joe Nussbaum directs a script from Katie Wech. Reviews, picture and the trailer are below.

Let’s start with Marshall Fine’s review, in which he states that “girls need this kind of princess-y tale the way boys need adventure stories; it’s a rite of passage.” Thank you, for another reminder of what’s wrong with gender imbalances in the media and the messages we’re sending to children. At least the stars have “sweet, unaffected chemistry,” according to TimeOut’s Keith Uhlich. With lighting like this, how could they not? But Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles already nailed the hate=love formula in 1999’s Ten Things I Hate About You (an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew), which we’ll call the thinking teen’s Prom. Get ye to your Netflix queue.

The soundtrack may be the most promising thing; preview it at the Prom Facebook page.

Thompson on Hollywood

Marshall Fine:

“I’m obviously not the target demographic for Disney’s “Prom.” Still, I’d like to think that, even if I were a teen-age girl, I’d be smart enough to see this for the formulaic b.s. that it is. Yes, I know, girls need this kind of princess-y tale the way boys need adventure stories; it’s a rite of passage. So “Prom” seems relatively harmless; also, lifeless and pointless.”

Thompson on Hollywood

Ed Gonzalez, Slant:

“The film, a wish-fulfillment fantasy through and through, sounds as if it was scripted by a tween, but it acknowledges the sincerity of its characters’ desires without denying that the ritual of prom is by and large a frivolous one. The plot is clogged with rote incidents familiar from countless teen movies about heartache and college-initiated separation, but the low-budget aesthetic choices—from the frequent use of handheld to the use of music (Passion Pit and M83 are prominently featured, but Katy Perry has to wait until the big night to be heard)—give the whole thing a semblance of the real.”

Nick Pinkerton, Village Voice:

“The prophecy of Nova’s opening voiceover—’One night has a way of bringing everyone together’—is fulfilled by the last reel, sincere hearts are rewarded, bad boys are harnessed into cummerbunds, and traditions are called into question and then quickly validated. The self-reinforcing system of Prom’s universe is so perfectly worked out in advance that all the movie needs to do is fulfill its requirements. It deserves nothing more or less than a Perfect Attendance award.”

Brian Lowry, Variety:

“In a way, Prom performs a cinematic service — assembling several decades worth of high-school movie cliches in one tidy package, all building toward a prom night conveniently free of sex, drugs or other traditional forms of youthful debauchery. Essentially, this is a Disney Channel movie on a larger screen — skipping the intermediate step that preceded High School Musical hitting theaters.”

Thompson on Hollywood

Keith Uhlich, TimeOut:

“High on the movie’s list of soul-shattering conundrums is the difficulty of telling your long-term boyfriend you got into Parsons. But the majority of the drama comes courtesy of prom committee head Nova (Teegarden) and school bad boy Jesse (McDonell), who are forced to work together after the decorations for the gala—theme: Starry Night—go up in flames. They hate each other, of course. Which means they love each other. Fortunately, Teegarden and McDonell make up for the hand-me-down plotting with a sweet, unaffected chemistry.”

This Article is related to: Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , ,



I know I’m a bit late posting this, but I really wanted to rant about something that has been bugging me for a long time. Here goes…

I work at a movie theater and I can tell you that the average teenager does not want to see a movie like this. As Bill said, the audience was mainly parents with young children and several between the ages of 7 to 10. A few pre-teens as well, but not many.

Whenever I read reviews that say “teenage girls will love it” or “I’m not the target audience: 14-year-old girl,” I really want to gag. Not all teenage girls will love it. When I was a teenager I wasn’t interested in things like this. Neither were any of my friends, male, female or otherwise. Please movie critics, stop it with these statements and just tell us about the movie. Movies can be watched, enjoyed, hated by anyone. Why must you single out female teens, like they have no taste in movies? Why do you always assume that they will enjoy movies like “Prom” simply because of their age and gender? It’s obnoxious. Teenage girls can tell the difference between a “good” movie and a “bad” one.
On the flip side, if a female teenager happens to enjoy a “bad” movie like this, do you have to insult her intelligence for it? It’s okay to enjoy bad movies. Also- and I can’t believe I’m defending “Prom” here- there are not that many movies marketed towards female teens. It’s sad that they have to go see a movie like this, but there it is. As you write about all the flaws in a movie aimed at teenagers, please, do not insult the teenagers. They did not make this movie.

Thank you and goodnight.


@ Nicole

I don’t know who your friends are because no one wanted to see this “shit”. (Your words not mine.) In my neighborhood all the local boys AND girls are all lined up to see Fast Five and the handful of folks seeing this are families with tiny tots who just wanted to something I guess. There’s not many of them though as evidenced by the dismal BO. Oh, and for the clueless critics that are listed here. HSM is waaay better than this dreck. And the not so youthful leads have almost no chemistry.


im 14 years old and i read this site religiously. i throw up a bit in my mouth whenever i see this trailer, but i’m probably the exception to this “rule” because all of my friends want to see this shit.


I would recommend that young teenage girls instead go see Fast Five a pure testosterone overload if ever there was one with some incredible action sequences. (It’s almost practically homoerotic at times especially when Dwayne The Rock Johnson and Vin Diesel have their big fight) and the women are tough too in the film

I would tell them all to reject pandering movies that enforces female stereotypes like Prom!!!!!


I need movies like this and “High School Musical 3” to get made. Yes, they promote lies and are not at all reflective of our society and its problems, but they always provide a great, ironic time at the movies. I saw “The Heart Specialist” ( three times in theatres and Brendan Fraser’s “Furry Vengeance” was the funniest movie of last year. Bad movies are the best movies.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *