Why Prom might be THE worst movie
by Mr. Nobel
From a technical perspective, certainly not. I mean, I can bitch about Prom all I want, but, at the end of the day, the cinematography, grammar, editing, etc. is still legions above that found in The Room, Birdemic, or any other shitty shit shit movie.
Prom’s claim to being the worst movie ever rests on its morals and the film’s integrity. Now, most movies aren’t works of art, or at least aren’t conceived as such. The bulk of Hollywood’s exports are products, things you’re supposed to consume and then forget, and that’s fine. A well made product (e.g. Indiana Jones or Ocean’s 11) can offer all the satisfaction of a handcrafted, microbrew soda, or a kettle cooked, naturally flavored potato chip. It’s still junk food, but it’s damned good and damned classy junk food. Competently made, if uninspired, products have their place too – the Diet Pepsis of the world. Even with poorly made products, you get the sense that somewhere along the line someone had good intentions in putting this thing out. I won’t argue for the merits of Transformers 2 or any post-Knocked Up Katherine Heigl movies, but at least someone (maybe the writer, maybe a producer) involved in that creative process wanted to make something entertaining.
Prom is the only movie I’ve ever seen to have absolutely no merits as a work of art or a product. That’s fucking ridiculous. High School Musical has merits as a bit of pop-escapism for Disney’s target demographic. Twilight works, on some level, as escapist entertainment/wish fulfillment. Even that fucking Mean Girls direct to DVD sequel has some value as a comedy.
Prom lacks any and all value as a product.
It’s not escapism. The generic high school in Prom is just that: generic. Lifeless. Bloodless. Fake, but not the good kind of fake. I’m reminded of Cheeburger Cheeburger and its carefully maintained 50s diner aesthetic that winds up feeling like a plastic wrapped, cookie cutter visage than an actual entity. Instead of going for a heightened sense of reality (a la Mean Girls), Prom struggles desperately to feel like the real deal (notice that the limp, uninspired soundtrack is just an amalgamation of generic pop hits from Katy Perry, et al). The sets, though strangely very clean, are drab and utilitarian, the lighting’s very low key and the cinematography’s digital and has pretenses of being verite. But, none of that generates a lick of personality. The too-clean sets, the halfhearted attempts at gritty, handheld filming, it just doesn’t mesh together, and is at odds with the stylized dialogue, the perfectly applied make-up/pimple-free leads and the lazy, archetypal characters.
Prom is not a comedy. It has, maybe, one somewhat humorous line, and maybe a half-dozen or so more attempts in that vein, but it never tries to be funny. I dunno, maybe if Harmony Korine was the director, I could consider the acting in this movie as some kind of ironic joke. But, nope, it’s to be taken seriously, not as performance art.
Prom is not a drama. None of the characters ever, once, feel like they have anything at stake, nor do the filmmakers feel particularly obligated to raise the stakes. Why, y’know, make something halfway compelling when you can cutaway to another shot of that fat kid trying to get a date? Prom goes through the motions but it does not have a heart or a soul. And the worst part is that the script deifies prom as “the Olympics of high school” and an event entirely made for the kids by the kids all the while cheerfully trying to divert your attention from Disney’s hypocrisy in, basically, using Prom to make money off of prom.
Prom isn’t a product. It wasn’t ever meant to entertain or even occupy the viewer’s attention. I’m going to sound paranoid for saying this, but Prom is an advertisement. A 104 minute advert for the inevitable K-Mart, made-in-a-sweatshop-in-India line of Prom branded clothing, Disney TV show spinoffs and, of course, the straight to DVD Prom 2 (holy crap that’s meta). It doesn’t matter that Prom failed at the box office and with critics. Disney wins by having the product and property name be out there. Now that they have a framework, they can lay on the crap products and crap sequels with the tagline “Based on the hit film Prom” affixed to the goods. Elementary and middle school kids are sick of that Zac Efron character, and Hilary Duff is too…passe. Let’s bring in someone cheaper and even less talented! Yeah, Prom!
Prom may have not have the worst technical chops, but it’s certainly the most insulting movie I’ve ever seen. Fuck you too, Disney. Fuck you right back, you cryogenically preserved bastard.