Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Zuraidah Alman about movies on VOD and in theatres to watch this weekend including Meryl Streep musical “The Prom” (Netflix), Rachel Brosnahan in the crime drama “I’m Your Woman” (Amazon Prime Video) and the comedy “Yes, God, Yes” (VOD).
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the Meryl Streep musical “The Prom” (Netflix), Rachel Brosnahan in the crime drama “I’m Your Woman” (Amazon Prime Video), the COVID thriller “Songbird” (Premium VOD) and the comedy “Yes, God, Yes” (VOD).
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Jennifer Burke to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the Meryl Streep musical “The Prom” (Netflix), Rachel Brosnahan in the crime drama “I’m Your Woman” (Amazon Prime Video), the COVID thriller “Songbird” (Premium VOD) and the comedy “Yes, God, Yes” (VOD).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including Meryl Streep musical “The Prom” (Netflix), Rachel Brosnahan in the crime drama “I’m Your Woman” (Amazon Prime Video) and the COVID thriller “Songbird” (Premium VOD).
Director Ryan Murphy returns to familiar territory with “The Prom,” a high school musical adapted from a Broadway show now streaming on Netflix. The creator of the pop culture juggernaut “Glee” throws subtlety out the window and ups the ante with an all-star cast to bring the all-singing-all-dancing story of inclusivity to glittery life.
The action begins on the opening night of a Broadway show, a musical about Eleanor Roosevelt starring two self-involved stage icons, Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden). When terrible reviews force the show to close on opening night, taking their dreams of Tony Award glory with it, they fear they’ll never work again. Joining in on the pity part are
Trent (Andrew Rannells), a Juilliard grad waiting on his big break by bartending at Sardi’s restaurant and Angie Dickinson (Nicole Kidman), a “Chicago” chorus girl who has spent twenty years for her chance of playing Roxie.
At the same time across the country in small-town Indiana controversy in brewing. Mrs. Greene (Kerry Washington), head of the local PTA, has announced that to preserve community standards, gay high school student Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman) will be banned from attending the prom with her girlfriend.
Cut to New York where the four actors hatch a plan to find a cause they can support to boost their dented public images. When they hear about Emma’s plight, the self-proclaimed “liberals from Broadway” hop on a bus for Indiana to bring their self-styled (and self-serving) activism to the Midwest.
High jinks and high stepping result.
“The Prom” is a feel-good movie that not only celebrates inclusivity but also the form of the musical. It’s an ode to Broadway and, in these isolated times, the importance of entertaining people. When Dee Dee tells high school principal Tom Hawkins (Keegan-Michael Key) she’s planning to quit the business, he says, earnestly, “You can’t quit because I need you to do what you do.” It’s a lovely sentiment but it makes the clumsy handling of many of the musical numbers somewhat mystifying. If this form is so important, why are the big dance sequences such a mish mash of frenetic camera work, candy colors and flailing choreography? There is a difference between dazzling and dizzying and Murphy errs on the side of the latter too often.
Other than that, “The Prom” fits alongside pop musicals like “Bye Bye Birdie,” another show about actors trying to wring some publicity out of a small town. It’s peppy with a game cast. Streep, Rannells and Kidman have fun in big performances and Corden goes for it, but made me wonder if Nathan Lane, who would have been terrific, or Brooks Ashmanskas, who played Glickman on Broadway, were otherwise engaged while the movie was being shot.
The film’s heart and soul, however, is Jo Ellen Pellman as Emma, the gay high school senior who displays resilience and courage in the face of prejudice. She’s terrific in a role that requires her to sing, dance while pulling on your heartstrings.
If you are someone who has the release date of “West Side Story,” which features Pellman’s co-star Ariana DeBose as Anita, marked on your calendar, or if the words “Meryl Streep raps” grab your attention, then you’ll want to put “The Prom” in your Netflix queue. It aims to please fans of the genre and delivers a blast of feel-good vibes but probably won’t win over people who don’t like it when actors suddenly burst into song.
As the first movie to jump ship from theatrical to VOD at the start of the pandemic, “Trolls World Tour” set a precedent. Dozens of movies have followed suit, but this will be remembered as the first. Unfortunately, that is the only groundbreaking thing about this Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake sequel.
Returning from 2016’s “Trolls” are Queen Poppy (Kendrick), and her best friends Branch (Timberlake) and Biggie (James Corden). They are pop music loving Trolls who pass the days singing, dancing and hugging until Poppy discovers that there are five other Troll tribes, divided by their musical taste. “The truth is we are not alone in this world,” says King Peppy (Walt Dohrn, who also directs). “There are other kinds of Trolls. They are not like us. They are different ways in you can’t even imagine. We love music with a hummable hook, a catchy rhythm, and an upbeat melody that makes you want to wiggle your butt. These others Trolls sing different. They dance different. Some of them can’t even grasp the concept of ‘Hammer Time.’”
The Queen and Company set off on a fact-finding mission to visit the other musical colonies. “I can’t stay home when I know there is a world of Trolls out there,” she says. On her journey she discovers sounds she doesn’t quite understand. “They must not know that music’s supposed to make you happy,” she says as a mournful (but not too mournful, this is a “Trolls” movie after all) country song fills the soundtrack. Later, after hearing classical music for the first time she wonders aloud, “Where’s the words?” But she also discovers a threat in the form of Metal Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) who plans to use “the ultimate power chord” to assert rock’s place as the official music of all Trolls. “By the end of my world tour we’re all going to have the same vibe,” says Barb. “We’ll be one nation of trolls under rock!”
“Trolls World Tour” is an update of the “Free To Be… You and Me’s” salute to individuality, tolerance, and comfort with one’s identity. Bathed in bright colours, set to kid friendly adaptations of pop, rock, rap and country hits (like “Trolls Just Wanna Have Fun”) and populated by vinyl creatures with DayGlo “Eraserhead” coifs and big goofy smiles, it’s a jukebox movie about finding the things that bring us together, not divide us, while maintaining the things that make us unique. “Denying our differences is denying the truth of who we are,” says King Quincy (Parliament-Funkadelic’s George Clinton).
Good messages wrapped up in a glitzy, frenetic package is the stock in trade of kid’s entertainment and “Trolls World Tour” delivers in those regards. The colourful visuals, seemingly designed by a Troll on acid, will make kid’s eyeballs dance and the messages are delivered with the subtlety of a slap to the face, so check and check. What’s missing is the wonderful weirdness that made the original “Trolls” film the strangest children’s entertainment since “H.R. Pufnstuf.” Story wise, this one feels formulaic with less of an edge, but it does deliver a blast of energy that will keep its target audience—kids and stoned adults—happy.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the final instalment of the Skywalker Saga, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the weirdest movie of the year, “Cats” and the ripped from the headlines drama “Bombshell,” starring Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly.