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Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // PG // August 30, 2011 // Region 0
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted August 25, 2011 | E-mail the Author
Hey kids! I'm about to run a metaphor into the ground, goes! Prom is like cotton candy. It's sweet and fluffy and bright and candy-colored. Nah, it's not all that filling. Yeah, it's exactly
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the same as every other fistful of cotton candy you've ever shoved in your mouth. Oooooooh, but it tastes so good going down that who really cares? I'm a total sucker for teen movies, especially that string of 'em from the tailend of the '90s like She's All That and 10 Things I Hate About You. Prom may be rolling down the pike more than a decade after all those flicks but feels like it's been snipped out of the exact same cloth. I mean that in a good way too. Prom isn't High School Musical 4 under a different name. They're not trying to build a franchise outta this. No one's shamelessly mugging at the camera with a bunch of dumb, lazy gags. Prom is just a cute, fun, frothy, and totally earnest little movie about a bunch of kids dealing with all the joys and headaches about their final few weeks of high school.

So, yeah, Prom is comfort food, and kind of the whole deal with comfort food is that you know exactly what you're gonna get. I mean, if I poked you on the shoulder and shouted, "hey, make up a bunch of characters for a movie named Prom, now!", you'd rattle off pretty much everyone on the bill here. Yeah, there's Nova (Aimee Teegarden) the workaholic overachiever who spearheads the prom planning committee but hasn't actually gotten around to lining up a date yet. Oops! When all the decorations go up in flames, Nova only has a few weeks to build it all back up from scratch, and the only help she has is troublemaker Jesse Richter (Thomas McDonell). Leather jacket? Check. Scruffy facial hair? Check. Always in the principal's office? Check. Misunderstood bad boy who Nova will eventually fall head-over-heels for, and it turns out he's a really good kid who's just had a hard time dealing with his troubled past and stuff? Well, I don't want to give anything away! Who else are we looking at here? Oh, there's the arrogant jock who's two-timing a couple of super-nice, super-cool girls who deserve way better. Over there in the corner is the awkward senior working his way down a list of girls, desperately trying to find a date, only to
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embarrass himself over and over and over and over. There's the couple that's been inseparable since junior high and think they're gonna be together forever in love, only one of 'em is going to school in New York and doesn't know how to break the news they won't be going to college together after all! Then there's the sweet, shy kid with the loud best friend, and the cutest girl in school looks like she's taken an interest in him, but he's kinda fuzzy on how to go from just being friends to whatever's next. There's a weird kid named Rolo -- 'cause he's always scarfing down Rolos -- who keeps telling one ridiculous story after another about this Canadian supermodel-type who everyone knows couldn't possibly exist. What do you think is gonna happen with that at the big dance?

Sure, you probably already guessed who all these characters were and what's gonna happen to 'em once I said "teen movie". There aren't a lot of surprises here, but that's not really the point of a movie like this. Prom doesn't come off as some coldly-calculated marketing machine at work, and there's a sincerity to it all that counts for a lot. The girls are all cute as a button. Multiple buttons, even. I wound up liking pretty much everybody in the cast, really. Even though I knew what was in the cards for all of them, I still felt happy when things went their way and was boo-boo-lip sad when they didn't. Since it's played as more of an ensemble piece with a bunch of different mini-stories being juggled around, nothing ever has a chance to feel stale or boring. There's a really nice balance between keeping the momentum breezing forward without getting disjointed or halfway developing all this stuff. Prom isn't as sharp or witty as my favorite teen movies from the '90s, but it's not really trying to be either. It's all about the heart, and even if the beats of the plot aren't astonishingly original or anything, I'd say Prom is still reasonably smartly-written overall...y'know, kinda generic but not at all dumb. The movie's so sincere and gosh-darn-likeable that I just wanna run up to it and give it a big bear hug. This is exactly what I want from a movie called Prom. Heck, that's the review right there. Forget all that other stuff I said! Recommended.

Prom is kind of a knockout in high-def. One of the first movies to be shot with the mighty Arri Alexa camera, its digital photography is ridiculously sharp and overflowing with detail. Contrast remains rock solid throughout, bolstered by deep, inky black levels. No video noise ever buzzes around, even when the lights are dimmed down really low. I think I snapped all the wrong screengrabs because Prom is heckuva lot more vibrant and colorful than the pics scattered around this review might lead you to think. No hiccups in the compression, no clunky noise reduction, no hard ringing around looks silky-smooth and polished and just...well, perfect.

I guess since you're reading a Blu-ray review and all, you're not really eyeing the DVD-only release of Prom, but in case you're still kinda curious how the two stack up next to each other, click on any of the images below to compare:

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Boring technical stuff! Dual layer Blu-ray disc. AVC encode. Seamless branching, depending on which language you choose. Aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Anamorphic widescreen DVD on the other side of the case too.

I really don't have anything but the very nicest things to say about the way Prom looks on Blu-ray, but the way it sounds...? Kind of a different story. Don't get me wrong; this 24-bit, 5.1 DTS-HD Master
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Audio track is totally okay. 'Sjust a lot more ordinary. The surrounds sometimes splash around a little atmospheric color, and there are even a couple of pans like Jesse's motorcycle zooming from the front to the back, but those rear speakers are otherwise pretty much reserved for the long list of songs on the soundtrack. The rears can get pretty loud, and sometimes it starts to overwhelm the dialogue up front. Bass response ranges from okay to pretty good, but even when the music's supposed to be blaring, the subwoofer doesn't really rattle the room. The whole thing sounds kind of meek and polite, which moms might appreciate but isn't my speed so much. Prom absolutely sounds okay on Blu-ray, but it doesn't have that big, booming, cinematic sound I expect from a movie fresh out of theaters.

Prom also piles on a descriptive video service track as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs in French and Spanish. Subtitles are offered in English (SDH), French, and Spanish.

Pretty much all of the extras are exclusive to this Blu-ray release. The standalone DVD only includes the making-of featurette and the blooper reel.
  • Last Chance Lloyd (10 min.; HD): "Last Chance Lloyd" plays less like a standalone short and more like a subplot that was heavily trimmed down in the final cut of Prom. Basically, it's more of Lloyd -- and his super-supportive sister! -- working his way down a list of pretty much every girl in school so he'll have a date for the dance. I like a lot of this stuff, although it starts to feel awfully overexplainy near the end, and I can see why big chunks of this were yanked out of the movie proper. The runtime is a hair over 10 minutes, but if you shrug off the way-too-long end credits and the bits already in the movie, "Last Chance Lloyd" clocks in closer to 6 or 7 minutes.

  • Putting on Prom (6 min.; HD): The disc's making-of featurette quickly breezes through how the concept and cast for Prom all came together. A gaggle of the folks on both sides of the camera chat about their own prom memories...well, those of 'em who are old enough to have gone to prom, at least!

  • Bloopers (3 min.; HD): Flubbed lines, fumbling around with props, goofy faces, and flurries of giggles...hey, it's a blooper reel!

  • Deleted Scenes (8 min.; HD): Each of the four deleted scenes in this reel are introduced by director Joe Nussbaum and producer Justin Springer. There are a couple of extra gags at the prom, a peek at just how Nova and
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    Jesse managed to slip out of that high school down the road, a B.M.O.C. and his secret squeeze having a not-so-steamy meetup in a janitor's closet, and Jesse getting mocked by Tyler and his buddies. Kinda cool that this footage made it to the Blu-ray disc, but yeah, the movie's better off without it.

  • Music Videos (24 min.; HD): Wow! Nearly a half-hour of high-def music videos. On the hit parade this time around are...drum roll!...

    1. "Not Your Birthday" by Allstar Weekend
    2. "Your Surrender" by Neon Trees
    3. "Time Stand" by Moon
    4. "We Could Be Anything" by Nolan Sotillo
    5. "Juntos Lo Haremos Bien" by Nolan Sotillo (y'know, the Spanish version)
    6. "I'll Be Yours" by Those Dancing Days
    7. "Come On, Let's Go" by Girl in a Coma

    Oh, and these are fully produced music videos too, not just a bunch of clips from Prom with different songs blaring behind 'em.

Just in case you missed it a few paragraphs up, this two-disc set comes packaged with a DVD that'll play in pretty much anything, ever, in case you're not in front of your home theater but still wanna give Prom a spin. The set comes packaged in a shiny, embossed slipcover too.

The Final Word
Go ahead and judge me if you want, but goshdarnit, I liked Prom. It's everything I want in a teen movie: cute and fun and frothy and totally earnest without even a little bit of cynicism creeping in. Yeah, yeah, the characters and the beats of the plot really haven't changed from the glut of teen flicks that flooded video stores back in the late '90s, but there's a reason so many of these movies march along to the same formula: it works! Recommended.
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