Review in a Hurry: Disney's Prom is the squeaky-clean romp you'd expect from the Mouse House: no sex, no drugs and rock n' roll that's questionable at best. But that's OK! Tweens everywhere will be more than pleased with the up-and-down (but never really that down) adventures of a group of teens getting ready for their big night.
The Bigger Picture: Prom night has been in numerous teen films, but just as a back drop. After way too many High School Musicals, Disney has made a movie that's not centered around singing or sports, but rather the hopes and dreams of students whose immediate future includes limos, corsages and punch.
Cheerfully uptight Brookside High class president and organizer Nova Prescott (Aimee Teegarden) is devastated when her school's prom decorations are destroyed in a fire. And senior prom is only three weeks away!
Told as intersecting stories of 14 students, first-time screenwriter Katie Wech has a knack for giving the boys and girls their due. Nova is clearly the lead, but the strength of Prom is how much we enjoy spending time with all of them. Some characters are a bit on the nose—the music nerds who love testing each other on '90s bands that don't include Dave Grohl, the smooth-talking football player who has it all—but the writing and the chemistry of the whole ensemble work.
Sure, Rolo (Joe Adler) is a clueless airhead whose mannerisms feel a bit too close to Sean Penn's stoner Spicoli, but young viewers won't know who Spicoli is. Also cribbing from the high school comedy greats, Lloyd (Nicholas Braun) is a guy who wears his heart on his trench-coated sleeve like Say Anything's Lloyd Dobler. Again, only the older folks will notice.
These quibbles aside, it's refreshing to see a movie where a teen's angsty weight of the world is really only as heavy as finding the right date...or maybe no date at all. These are not the tortured young adults of the CW.
As Nova, Teegarden is in familiar territory, since she's spent years playing insecure Julie Taylor on NBC's excellent Friday Night Lights. She's charming, adorable and since it's Disney, not overly sexy. (As it should be.)
As punishment for ditching his classes, bad-boy Jesse (Thomas McDonell) is recruited to help Nova rebuild the sets and decorations. He's an outsider though (with the required long hair and motorcycle) who hates the very idea of prom.
Initially, Nova and Jesse hate each other, but they just might (spoiler alert!) end up together. Easy to roll your eyes at? Definitely, but resist the urge to snark!
Again, the old fogy in us wants point out that Prom is in no way in the same league as high school classics like Fast Times or Breakfast Club. If anything, its cast of relative unknowns feels more akin to a big-screen version of Degrassi High—and we mean that in a good way.
The 180—a Second Opinion: If you're a parent, just be cool and drop your daughter off with her friends at the multiplex so they can see this without you. The lack of High School Musical song-and-dance numbers doesn't make Prom unbearable, but really, there's no reason to see this if you're old enough to drive.