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.


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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Superintelligence: Melissa McCarthy Is Great, The Movie Isn’t – HBO Max Review

James Corden’s voice was also a good choice.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Carol Peters (Melissa McCarthy) is a woman who quit a decent career in Silicon Valley and is trying to work on something more philanthropic. After a terrible job interview causes a potential employer (Karan Soni) to call her the “most average person on Earth,” she is selected as the test subject by the recently sentient computer program called SuperIntelligence (or Si)(James Corden/Octavia Spencer). Si has studied humanity and decided that it could either destroy humanity or save it and it is asking Carol to help it decide. Si encourages Carol to try and reconnect with her ex-boyfriend George (Bobby Cannavale). Meanwhile, Carol’s best friend Dennis (Brian Tyree Henry) works with the US Government to try and shut Si down, but it looks like the world’s fate rests on Carol. 

The whole “James Corden voice” is pretty fun.


It’s so sad that Melissa McCarthy keeps getting movies that are not up to her level, because she is really an incredibly talented person. She’s so talented, in fact, that she almost makes this movie work, but it’s just a bit too scattered and too bland to properly take advantage of her abilities. A lot of it is that this movie is unbelievably arbitrary. 

McCarthy can pull off that outfit. Clearly, she can do anything.

First off, it’s ridiculous that Si, a supercomputer, decides that Carol is the most average person on Earth just because some douche calls her that. She’s a former strategist for Yahoo! who now wants to run charities to help make the world a better place. She clearly is above average in intelligence, education, and resources and is clearly more ethically-focused than most people. Then, Si gives Carol three days to prove to it that humanity merits saving, but decides the best way to do that is to watch her try to get back together with her ex-boyfriend. Even weirder, we don’t get a clear picture of why Carol and George split up and why they never got back together before now, so it’s not really surprising when they quickly reconnect. We just don’t get a lot of emotional weight out of their interactions, despite the fact that they’re basically preventing omnicide. This movie never feels like there are any stakes, even with the premise having massive ones.

There are a lot of scenes of them just being happy together a day after reconnecting.

Then there’s the subplot of Dennis working with the government and the agents trying to interfere with Si’s test of Carol. While they are comically inept, it further confounds the tone of the film. Later, the film *Spoilers* tries to reveal that all of Si’s actions have been done because the real test was whether humanity would just get out of the way and let Si operate independently or if they would immediately try to kill Si. By trying to destroy the internet and remove Si, humanity almost dooms itself. This twist is contrary to everything else Si has done and ends up being averted almost immediately.

And yes, McCarthy’s husband is one of the agents.

Overall, I just didn’t get much out of this movie. It’s got some funny parts, but it’s mostly just boring. 

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 (, follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Cats – It’s Im-purr-fect, but Not A Total Cat-tastrophe 

Critics seem to be coughing up hairballs, but I think they fur-got what the show was in the first place.

SUMMARY (Spoilers for a musical older than almost any of you reading this)

There are few summaries as Cat-sh*t crazy as this film’s plot, but it’s mostly the same as the musical. 

Victoria (Francesca Hayward) is an abandoned cat in the middle of London. She is greeted by a group of “Jellicle” cats who inform her that they are on their way to the Jellicle Ball. Jellicles will be judged for their singing by Old Deuteronomy (Dame Judi “Thank the Phoenicians” Dench) and the winner will be given a unique gift: They’ll be reborn into a new life. Along the way, Victoria meets the “narrator” Munkustrap (Robbie Fairchild), the magical cat Mr. Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson), the theatre cat Gus (Ian McKellen), the twin cat burglars Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer (Danny Collins and Naoimh Morgan), the railway cat Skimbleshanks (Steven McRae), the fickle Rum Tum Tugger (Jason Derulo), the fat elite cat Bustopher Jones (James Corden), and the more-than-a-little-stir-crazy cat Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson). Trying to upset the contest is the mystery cat Macavity (Idris “Black Superman” Elba) and his agents Captain Growltiger (Ray “Come on, you know who I am” Winstone) and Bombalurina (Taylor “Tay-Tay Von Swizzlesticks” Swift), who attempt to abduct the competitors and the judge. However, in the end, the contest is won by Jennifer Hudson when she sings “Memory.” Yeah, her character’s name is Grizabella, but it’s Jennifer Hudson and YOU WILL RESPECT HER.

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Respect her, even as this.


This movie has been beaten by critics with every known implement of cinematic abuse, including bad puns. Hell, the Rotten Tomatoes summary says “Despite its fur-midable cast, this Cats adaptation is a clawful mistake that will leave most viewers begging to be put out of their mew-sery.” I admit that I, myself, only saw this film because I was dragged, clawing and hissing, by another person who has tolerated similar-caliber films on my behalf and I expected a travesty of near Biblical proportions. 

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Their opening in Egypt was apparently pretty rough.

Instead, I got a mediocre adaptation of a musical. 

Yes, as everyone has been talking about, the actors in this movie are given coverings of CGI cat bodies and they are fairly unnerving. Yes, the sets are designed to give the actors the same proportional sizes as a regular cat, which can be extremely disorienting. Those are going to turn a lot of people off very quickly from the film and I get why. Honestly, I was surprised how little it ended up bothering me after I acclimated to it. Given that Cats has always been super weird I think others would have felt the same if the film didn’t have what I’m now realizing is Tom Hooper’s musical signature: Pointless realism. 

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It’s impressive to take humans and put them back in the uncanny valley.

If you watched the film adaptation of Les Miserables, I’m sure you have an idea of what I’m talking about, but if you haven’t, the movie has several scenes of realism that bring the audience out of the movie. Musicals aren’t supposed to be accurate to life, after all, so we don’t need to hear the sick “crack” of Javert’s head hitting the ground when he jumps off of a bridge or the bloody splatters of Gavroche getting shot. Those moments don’t make us more immersed in the experience, they create a greater incongruity between the musical parts and the rest of the film. Similarly, watching Rebel Wilson eating a bunch of roaches (even tap-dancing ones) and scratching her thighs while spread eagled like a regular cat doesn’t exactly mesh well with her subsequently unzipping her skin to reveal another outfit underneath. This is the kind of thing that permeates the film… too much realism matched with too much surrealism or theatrical realism. Now, I can say that I see what they were going for, having the cats sometimes act more beastial and sometimes more human in order to emphasize their emotions, but it just doesn’t feel like it. It feels… well, gross. 

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Yes, she unzips her body TWICE and it makes no damned sense. 

Having said all of that, the movie does have some good things going for it. Almost every performer is cast perfectly. They added a little talking and gave the film a slightly more exciting plot by expanding Macavity’s character, even though the plot is still minimal (and always has been). The song that Taylor Swift wrote for the movie, “Beautiful Ghosts,” gives Victoria a solid number that helps expand her character and give her more of a connection with Grizabella. Several of the songs were given a few updates and changes that were really solid and the performance of “Macavity: The Mystery Cat” by Taylor Swift and Idris Elba was freaking amazing. Lastly, Jennifer Hudson did absolutely nail “Memory.” I know that the song has been overdone and covered so many times that there is a joke in the film Jersey Girl about every single child at a talent show singing it, but it’s still a great song and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t misty-eyed after it. 

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She’s the T.S. in T.S. Eliot. 

Overall, this movie wasn’t necessarily “bad” as much as it is “disappointing.” With so many great performances and so much going for it, the film still falls flat because of some really bad creative decisions. Can we maybe just keep Tom Hooper away from musicals from now on? 

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 (, follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.