Friday Night Lights’ Aimee Teegarden easily holds up this engaging teen romance centering on those frantic weeks leading up to … Senior Prom!
Leading lady Teegarden is an experienced actress for her age, as is most of the lead cast – Thomas McDonell, DeVaughn Nixon, Yin Chang, Danielle Campbell, Jared Kusnitz, etc. — all seasoned young actors brought on board to give this sweet trifle body and edge.
And they’re all great looking – check out McDonell, a cross between Keanu Reeves and Johnny Depp, who incidentally is playing Depp’s younger self Young Barnabas Collins in the vampire outing Dark Shadows. There’s not an average looker or poor performance in the bunch.
The kids are preparing for prom in their own interesting and unique ways – some ask their dates out early, some are scared to, others decide they’ve lost out before they start; some are eternal optimists who just know they’ll be there with someone special when the Prom King and Queen are named. And it’ll be them, for sure.
The buzz phrase is “it doesn’t matter who you’ve been for four years… were all the same at Prom” is slightly frightening but intended to be welcoming and inclusive.
Teegarden’s Nova is in charge of Prom night, ironically called Starry Night. It’s up to her to decorate the gym, arrange the King and Queen competition, delegate helpers and get it done. They begin well, but one by one she’s abandoned by her deputized friends and takes the load on herself.
And the boy she likes hasn’t asked her to be his date yet. It’s hard to believe a character as beautiful, smart and nice as Nova is would be pining for a prom date.
Enter the school bad boy (McDonell) on a motorcycle, with plenty of ‘tude, good looks and a dark wardrobe worthy of any Twi-hard. He’s the quintessential outsider from the wrong side of the tracks whose surliness masks a sensitive heart.
Christine Elise of Beverly Hills 90201 (the original!) makes a rare appearance as his single mother. He upsets the apple cart at school and is sentenced to help Nova – miss prissy – with the prom decorations or fail class.
The riskiest and most interesting character is Tyler (Nixon) whose considerable charm and good natured attitude masks low down behaviour and misogynistic views towards women. He’s juggling girls, he inadvertently burns down the prom prop house and all Nova’s decorations, and keeps it secret, and carries on regardless.
He’s the Teflon Don and the life of the party; he throws one that is impossibly groovy and a fine frame for his Romeo act.
The film’s no intellectual or cinematic exercise, but its easy going and likeable, good clean fun for Prom-goers and heavy on the eye candy. And it’s interesting that each character has a defined and separate experience from the others.
The problems the kids face are diverse and realistic, the kids of problems kids of this age face, and we find ourselves caring. There’s nothing cloyingly sweet about it, either. A lot happens to likeable kids – nothing wrong with that.
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Written by Katie Wech
Directed by Joe Nussbaum
Opens April 29
MPAA:Rated PG for mild language and a brief fight