out of Five
Running time: 103
Prom is nicely acted and moves along at a decent pace but it's squarely aimed at the post-High-School-Musical crowd and it's all so sugar-coated and sanitised that there's nothing here for the over-12s.
What's it all about?
Directed by Joe Nussbaum, Prom stars Aimee Teegarden as over-achieving high school student Nova Prescott, who's obsessed with planning the perfect prom for her fellow seniors. However, things quickly go wrong: first she finds herself without a date and then the decorations accidentally catch fire, leading the principal to pair her up with sexy bad boy Jesse Richter (Thomas McDonell) in order to get things ready on time. Oh, however will this story end? Etc.
Meanwhile, several other characters have their own prom related plots: sweet natured Lucas (Nolan Sotillo) finally asks beautiful girl-next-door Simone (Danielle Campbell) to the prom, unaware that she's fallen hard for cocky jock Tyler (DeVaughn Nixon), who hasn't quite got around to dumping prom queen-in-waiting Jordan (Kylie Bunbury) yet. At the same time, shy lanky Lloyd (Nicholas Braun) asks out a series of girls, only for each attempt to end in disaster; Nova's best friend Mei (Yin Chang) agonises over whether to tell her perfect boyfriend (Jared Kusnitz) that she's going to college out of town; and gossipy Ali (Janelle Ortiz) refuses to believe that dopey Rolo (Joe Adler) has a hot girlfriend in Canada. Oh, and Lucas' movie loving best friend Corey (Cameron Monaghan), um, feels a bit left out.
The performances are all fine and at least the cast don't burst into song every five minutes. McDonell in particular has a palpable 'Young Johnny Depp' appeal that should set him up nicely for the next few years and he has sweet, believable chemistry with Teegarden, who subtly softens her potentially prissy part.
If you didn't know in advance that Prom was aimed squarely at the post-High School Musical tween audience (basically girls between 7 and 13), you could be forgiven for being annoyed at how harmless and saccharine it all is – for example, no-one ever even mentions sex or alcohol and even obvious stoner Rolo (written and acted like every teen stoner character you've ever seen) is only ever seen eating Rolos.
That said, Nussbaum maintains a decent pace and makes the central relationship moments work, even if the other plots are either underwritten or generally less satisfying.
Prom isn't exactly unwatchable but it's essentially a collection of heavily sanitised clichés and you're unlikely to enjoy it if you're over 12.