12 December 2020 04:39

Meryl Streep Netflix Nicole Kidman

New Movies to Watch This Week: Double Meryl in ‘The Prom’ and ‘Let Them All Talk’

Based on the 2018 musical of the same name, "The Prom" tells the heart-wrenching story of a 17-year-old teenager who is prohibited from bringing her girlfriend to her high school prom. Starring Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannells, Kerry Washington and Keegan-Michael Key, the musical is set in small-town Indiana. "The depressing thing is, they keep sort of happening … Every once in a while a few months will go by, and then someone will email us another, you know, high school that decided that no gays or lesbians can come to the prom. While the plot of "The Prom" wasn't inspired by one specific real-life event, the location was purposefully selected for a very specific reason: Indiana is where Vice President Mike Pence is from. Beguelin said, "I think you really need to come and see 'The Prom,' and also, we set it in Indiana because of you." Meryl Streep as Dee Dee Allen and James Corden as Barry Glickman in "The Prom" on Netflix.

Today, Murphy hopes that people from all walks of life appreciate this new film and its message of acceptance, especially during these troubling times. "#THEPROM is for anyone who ever felt like an outsider, and for anyone who just wants to be their authentic self - which I think is a universal conceit," he wrote on Instagram, adding, "My greatest Christmas wish is that this movie brings a sense of hope and community to anyone who needs it in these troubling times." Netflix's new film version, directed by Ryan Murphy, arrived in theaters Dec. 4 and is now streaming for those at home. "The Prom" changes the name of the main character to Emma (played by Jo Ellen Pellman) and relocates the story to Indiana. Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden) have recently flopped in an Eleanor Roosevelt musical, while Trent Oliver (Andrew Rannells) and Angie Dickinson (Nicole Kidman) are down-on-their-luck actors looking for a profile boost. Moreover, this is a year in which celebrities have already embarrassed themselves plenty trying to "help." (The celebrity Instagram "Imagine" cover early on in the coronavirus pandemic and the "I Take Responsibility" video in response to police brutality demonstrations come to mind.) Even if it wasn't Ryan Murphy at the helm, this "celebrities learn a lesson" morality tale would have felt awkward at best.

In "The Prom," Murphy takes all that "Glee" energy and adds a Netflix-level budget. RELATED STORIES The Prom: Watch Full Trailer for Ryan Murphy's Netflix Musical Event When it comes to Netflix's star-studded production of The Prom, one thing's universal: this movie is a lot of fun. Based on the short-lived Broadway musical, The Prom tells the story of Emma (newcomer Jo Ellen Pellman), an Indiana high schooler who isn't allowed to attend the dance with her girlfriend Alyssa (Hamilton's Ariana DeBose). The movie is mostly about a quartet of washed-up actors — Dee Dee (Meryl Streep), Barry (James Corden), Trent (Andrew Rannells) and Angie (Nicole Kidman) — who decide to advocate for Emma in a last-ditch attempt at relevancy. What ensues is a musical clash of ideologies, with school principal Tom (Keegan-Michael Key) joining the celebs in their fight against sinister PTA president Mrs. Greene (Kerry Washington), who also happens to be Alyssa's mother.

Frankly, we're surprised that Murphy — who recently brought us a Broadway production and film of The Boys in the Band featuring an all-gay cast — would put a straight man in the role of Barry, considering how much more weight a gay actor could have brought to the performance. Maybe things have changed since we went to high school [mumble] years ago, but we weren't asked who we were taking as our date when we bought our prom tickets. Ryan Murphy's new Netflix adaptation of the 2018 Broadway musical The Prom has a lot to live up to. And while it didn't actually win anything, its glitzy tongue-in-cheek showbiz narrative about two girlfriends fighting to attend their high school prom made it perfect fodder for Murphy's small-screen milieu of mixing queer stories with musicals and camp. On Netflix, The Prom has gotten a glow-up, with its Broadway cast of veteran character actors traded up for A-listers across the board, including Meryl Streep and James Corden as aging Broadway divas clinging to relevance by turning to social activism.

A small Indiana high school where a civil rights battle over prom night leads to a noxious moment of small-town ostracism — one based on an equally ugly true story. At James Madison High, the local PTA, headed by an angry mom (Kerry Washington), has just voted to cancel the spring prom over one student's request to attend the dance with her girlfriend. Meanwhile, in New York, a crew of self-absorbed theater veterans (Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, and Andrew Rannells) is facing a crisis of their own — a flood of bad reviews. Initially, the theater troupe just makes things worse, and the film relishes in dipping into some of the more outré cliches of small-town life, like having our heroes perform an ill-advised song about tolerance at a monster truck rally. And while our Broadway stars are having their own moments of growth and change as they start to support Emma for real, Alyssa has to decide whether she's really ready to come out and risk the full force of her town's ostracism.

It was a version of queer Americana that felt teleported in from the '90s without many updates; hell, the heartbreaking true story that The Prom is based on was itself nearly 10 years old. Still, it's very clear the show knows it's an escapist fantasy — and that's even clearer in the Netflix adaptation, which sharpens its satirical points throughout and gifts Key with a small but sincere song that screams The Prom's self-awareness about using the theater as an idealized version of reality. I had, and still have, serious qualms about the decision to model this entire story on an actual incident of small-town bigotry, one that resulted in the student ultimately winning a lawsuit against the school district — after moving away. Still, The Prom clearly wasn't intended to be a deep treatise on its subject; it's a musical comedy, after all. On Netflix, Streep joins Nicole Kidman and James Corden in Ryan Murphy's adaptation of Broadway musical "The Prom," in which a group of showbiz folks looking for a cause try to shame a small-town PTA into letting a teenage lesbian attend prom. And showbiz satire "The Stand In" features Drew Barrymore in dual roles as a high-drama movie star and the double who agrees to go to rehab in her place. Adapting his own Tony-nominated play "Outside Mullingar" in the key of twee, Shanley has made a film that many will enjoy, but few will understand, and it's not helped by a prologue in which young Anthony gazes up at the stars and asks, "Mother Nature, why did you make me so?" — a question the movie never deigns to explain.