Got a Prom Date? Disney Hopes You Do

City Pulse | April 26, 2011
What starts out as an all-too-formulaic teen romantic comedy settles into a forgivably recipe-driven think piece on the milestone significance of that unique social gathering known as the prom. It seems like every boy at Brookside High School has the same idea about how to ask their intended date to the upcoming "Starry Night Prom." They spell out "PROM?" in giant letters in a public place and wait patiently for the girl to see it and giver her answer.

It doesn't hurt that modern-day youthful versions of John Cusack, Johnny Depp, and Ralph Macchio are in attendance. Nolan Sotillo favors Macchio's "Karate Kid" days as Lucas, an all-American boy with a nerdy side on the brink of playing varsity football. Lucas has it bad for his romantically inclined classmate Simone (Danielle Campbell). However, cute-as-a-button Simone still has feelings for wandering-eye varsity quarterback Tyler (DeVaughn Nixon). Thomas McDonell falls into the Johnny Depp look-alike camp as brooding bad boy Jesse. It comes as not much of a surprise when events bring cynical loner Jesse into a school mandated assignment to help prom-planner Nova Prescott (Aimee Teegarden) rebuild a prom set destroyed by fire. Embers of desire ignite. Finally, Nicholas Braun falls into the John Cusack category during Cusack's "Say Anything" period as Lloyd Taylor, a good-looking well mannered kid who just can't get a date.

"If I'm about to kiss you, you'll know it." Jesse's cool response to Nova during an almost intimate moment is the kind of cocksure line teen males secret away for use at the right occasion. Maybe the moment will someday come, perhaps it won't. The hope for the romantic certitude it implies will be around for a long time. Love's bloom is a flower that inspires admiration regardless of whether the witness is an active participant or merely an onlooker.

Director Joe Nussbaum ("Sleepover") makes the most of his Jenny and Johnny-come-lately cast of fresh faced young actors. The camera loves the pretty and handsome actors who are never asked to do much more than be themselves from newbie screenwriter Katie Wech's script. Young horror movie aficionados may find their minds wandering to Brian DePalma's "Carrie" during the coronation of the prom king and queen when a similar camera angle reveals the onstage action from above and behind. A neatly designed plot twist follows even if the humiliation that occurs is far less violent than such a horror movie would present.

Every predictable plot point is underlined twice with sincere emotion. Teen movies like "Prom" are made to let kids know they are not alone in the whirlwind of events and moods they are going through. To that end, "Prom" plays every heart-string like a well worn melody.

Rated PG. 103 mins. (B-) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)
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