Who would think cinema needs another clichéd prom movie with dreary stereotypes who aren’t capable of cracking so much as one funny line? Apparently, Disney do, and they’re releasing it in theatres this week instead of hiding it away on some obscure cable channel, which is where it belongs.
Nova Prescott (Aimee Teegarden) is a model student and has only just finalized the decorations for the forthcoming prom when there’s a fire, and they’re all destroyed. Jess Richter (cinema’s next superstar, Thomas McDonell) is the school’s bad boy and when he antagonizes the principal he is ordered to help Nova remake the prom decorations. Meanwhile, five other potential couples worry about who is going to go with who to the big event.
Despite their tender years, not one of these characters uses teenage-speak and they all talk like sensible, rational adults. There’s a 16 year-old who announces “I’ve loved you for a long time, but I was just too afraid to say it”, and an 8-year old who cracks jokes about “peer counsellors”. Yes, really.
Equally unrealistic is the fact that none of these youngsters are remotely self-conscious or hormonally challenged and they all treat each other with deference and unerring courtesy. Just like in real schools.
But the biggest faux pas of all is that none of them send so much as a text, and in fact don’t even appear to even own a cell phone which is completely alien to the entire Western culture and makes you wonder how many mistakes a script can make before the studio execs prick up their ears.
The plot flits from couple to couple, but none of their stories impact on the others which is storytelling at its weakest and such simplification makes it seem as if the film is talking down to the audience. No one wants to be treated like an idiot and it’s difficult to imagine who will be going to watch this movie.
It’s obviously aimed at juveniles but is etched in a far too infantile tone to appeal to them and even the most passive teenager will be unable to identify with any of the characters who appear on the screen.
With everyone behaving so impeccably, there’s a pronounced lack of conflict and an attempt to fill this void is made by a storyline with Nova’s father, who visits Jess and warns him to stay away from his daughter. Jess immediately does as he’s told and stops seeing the girl he has fallen for which is so out of kilter with reality that the characters wither away in front of our very eyes.
Parental disapproval is, of course, the romantic adhesive equal only to superglue and clearly the only person in the world who is unaware of this is the writer of this trundling, incompetent film.