The Prom: It’s A Musical in a High School, but Not That One – Netflix Review

It’s not the best musical, but it was fun.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

The head of the PTA of Edgewater, Indiana, Mrs. Greene (Kerry Washington), cancels the prom rather allowing a female student named Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman) attend as an open lesbian. Emma, who already lives with her grandmother Bea (Mary Kay Place) after getting disowned by her parents, gets harassed over being gay by most of the students, except for her closeted girlfriend Alyssa (Ariana DeBose), Mrs. Greene’s daughter. At the same time, Broadway Stars Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden) have a show close on opening night (apparently). They meet up with failed actors Trent Oliver (Andrew Rannells) and Angie Dickinson (Nicole Kidman) and decide to build up some good publicity by helping Emma. While the principal of the school, Tom Hawkins (Keegan-Michael Key), is excited by the presence of the Stars, particularly Dee Dee, it turns out that a group of actors might not be the best at relating to a group of conservative Indianans… until the musical magic takes over, at least.

Three celebrities and a high-school principal. Typical.

END SUMMARY

I get why this film isn’t quite taking off the way Netflix clearly hoped. It’s tough to really give this movie a fair evaluation because it’s a happy uptempo musical addressing a dark and personal subject like homophobia. While there are a ton of musicals that have handled unpleasant subjects well, Urinetown and Rent, for example, this movie sort of hand-waves any actual consequences at the end of the story. It’s hard to pretend that it’s giving the weight that Emma’s struggle deserves while also watching a ton of people literally change their minds in a 4 minute song. Okay, it’s 4:31, per the soundtrack, but that extra 31 seconds doesn’t add a lot. 

Granted, it’s hard to be bigoted against such cuteness.

That said, if you’re willing to accept unrealistic and massive changes as part of the magical logic of a musical world, then this movie’s pretty good. The cast is amazing, as you probably guessed when you see Kerry Washington, Meryl Streep, Keegan-Michael Key, and Nicole Kidman on the cast list. That’s a murderer’s row of acting and they mostly bring their A-game. I still have not forgiven James Corden for Cats and his performance in this movie as a gay stereotype did not help, but he clearly loves to do a musical number and that really does help every time he’s on screen. Jo Ellen Pellman, who is making her film debut, comes out strong, particularly as one of the only people who sings like she’s actually in a Broadway musical, and, being a young queer woman, she adds a level of believability to the character that this movie needed. 

And she rocks a suit.

The songs are all very entertaining and the choreography is likewise. I particularly like the song by Meryl Streep “The Lady’s Improving,” which is performed by cutting between her singing it in the present and her past performance for which she apparently won a Tony. It’s a nice effect that you couldn’t really pull off on stage and it gives you a little bit more insight into the character. I’ll also say that almost any song that Jo Ellen Pellman sings stands out in the film, not just because of her voice but because they all feel the most sincere. 

Meryl can do what she wants. Always.

Overall, it’s a pretty good movie, it just has some fundamental issues on trying to tackle something bigger than it can handle.  

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Big Mouth: An Amazing Series About An Awkward Time – Netflix Review

Netflix brings us an honest and hilarious look at puberty.

SUMMARY 

Nick Burch (Nick Kroll) is a boy just on the precipice of puberty. His best friend is Andrew Glouberman (John Mulaney), who has been hit hard by hormones, represented by the Hormone Monster, Maury (Kroll). Their friends include the sarcastic and sad Jessi Glaser (Jessi Klein) and her hormone monstress Connie (Maya Rudolph), the horny Jay Bilzerian (Jason Mantzoukas), the nerdy Missy Foreman-Greenwald (Jenny Slate/Ayo Edebiri), openly-gay Matthew MacDell (Andrew Rannells), and the ghost of jazz legend Duke Ellington (Jordan Peele). Also, there’s a dog named Featuring Ludacris. Yes, he’s a pitbull. This is my favorite joke in the series.

Jenny Slate is great, but they had to recast her with a black actress for… obvious reasons.

END SUMMARY

Puberty is one of the hardest times for people. Your body is changing, your mind is changing, and most of your social circles are changing, but none of them seem to be changing in the same way. You suddenly have a lot more urges to f*ck, fight, or feed, but an entire planet of older people telling you that you have to suppress them. This show decides to represent that by a literal monster that compels children into giving into those urges, and it is probably one of the most brilliant conceits out there. Yes, Maury is often massively and inappropriately perverted, to the point that it may disturb the viewer, but that’s a part of puberty, and one that most people later forget (or suppress). The show even gives a voice to the societal stigmas associated with those urges with the Shame Wizard (David Thewlis). It’s impressive how many aspects of youth the show works into the metaphor.

This includes the anxiety mosquito and the depression kitty.

In addition to being commentary on modern youth, the show is one of the funnier things on television right now. The humor ranges from gross-out humor and slapstick to clever puns and wordplay and you can never figure out where the next joke is going to come from. One episode is literally about making a musical of the film Disclosure and, if you’ve ever seen Disclosure, you are probably laughing at the thought of doing a musical about a movie in which Michael Douglas sues Demi Moore for sexual harassment. The show often uses these ridiculous premises to make a legitimate point about an issue, whether it be misogyny, birth control, or the fact that Florida is a giant waste of land that should be scoured for the good of mankind (having lived most of my life there, this is the most valid point in the show). 

Overall, it’s a funny show and if you’re not watching it, give it a shot. It’s good if you’re an adult, but if you’ve got a kid approaching or dealing with puberty it’s not a bad introduction.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.