In “The Prom” the 71-year-old can be seen as a troubled show star. The adaptation of a Broadway musical has succeeded. However, their effect fizzles out all too quickly on the screen.
Broadway stars Dee Dee (Meryl Streep) and Barry (James Corden) have hit rock bottom. Her new musical “Eleonore!” About the first wife Eleonore Roosevelt was torn up by the criticism and canceled immediately after the premiere. “It’s not about the show. It’s about you. You are just not lovable. Nobody likes narcissists, ”explains the PR agent. Therefore, after a few cocktails, the two decide to polish up their image with a little celebrity activism. But what topic should they get involved in? Poverty? World hunger? Too large. In search of a tiny injustice that you can get rid of, you will find it on Twitter. There, the story of Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) from Indianapolis, who wanted to go to prom with her lover, is going viral, whereupon the parents’ council called off the whole event. Everyone agrees: the “little lesbian” needs to be helped. And so, together with the hard-drinking showgirl Angie (Nicole Kidman) and the acting bartender Trent (Andrew Rannells), the two set off for the Midwest to confront the bourgeois provincials with all the power of glamor.
“We’re Liberals from Broadway,” they shout in a tried and true theatrical manner as they storm the parents’ meeting in the gym. And then the lights go out and the spotlight is turned on Dee Dee, who throws her song around the ears of the astonished audience. “It’s not about me,” she sings fervently, with a visible desire to get everyone’s attention.
No doubt: Meryl Streep knows how to keep her joy of playing at 71. With verve and subtle self-irony, she takes on the role of the egocentric diva in the Netflix musical “Prom”. As a troubled Rampensau, whose dazzling image shows clear signs of fatigue, Streep is well cast. The three-time Oscar winner has already proven in “Mamma Mia!” (2008) that she can dance and sing in musicals. Your Dee Dee only has two Tony awards, but they are always at hand when you travel when you need to get a suite from the receptionist. But the man behind the reception counter is completely unimpressed and asserts that there are only simple double rooms in this hotel. The local parenting is similarly unaffected by the intervention of the New York artists and is sticking to the ban on balls. Only the attractive school principal Hawkins (Keegan-Michael Key) stands up for Emma and also proves to be a Broadway enthusiast and die-hard Dee-Dee fan. But even if the court overturns the homophobic ruling, parents spokeswoman Mrs. Greene still has a perfidious plan up her sleeve, without realizing that her own daughter is Emma’s secret lover.
“The Prom” is based on the musical of the same name by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, which ran very successfully on Broadway two years ago and whose story is based on real events. In Fulton, Mississippi, a student was banned from prom in 2010 after announcing she would show up with her lover. Even then, celebrities from the music and TV scene campaigned for the school graduate.
Director Ryan Murphy, who successfully translated the musical “Glee” into television format over six seasons, relies entirely on the sentimental power of the combative coming-out story. This offensive sentimentality is, however, buffered again and again by the winking irony with which Murphy looks at the egocentric habitus of the traveling artist troupe. The mix works well and only gets out of control with the rushed mass happy end, when the message of inclusion is announced with fanfare and all homophobic provincials are rushed to become tolerant souls.
As an “inclusive”, “The Prom” undoubtedly has its heart in the right place, represents its social concerns in an unbroken good mood mode and can also convince beyond Meryl Streep’s force field. British comedy star James Corden, who premiered in a musical in “Cats”, gets along much better without a cat costume, and newcomer Jo Ellen Pellman is simply adorable as a lesbian girl fighting for love. Only Nicole Kidman, who is shining in “The Undoing” at the same time, seems a bit out of place as a drinking showgirl from the third row. The vocal interludes and dance choreographies are rock solid, but of course they can’t keep up with the wonderful lightness of Demian Chazelle’s “La La Land”.
The comparison clearly shows that the kinetic energy and contagious euphoria that musicals can develop on stage or in the cinema cannot be easily produced in the Netflix format.