Thursday 4 December 2008

Movie Review: Prom Wars (2008)

Back in the early 1980's, a sub-genre of the teenage movie featured nerds and jocks one-upping each other for 90 minutes before the nerds inevitably triumphed and proved that smarts defeat brawn. This built-in bias is understandable since real-life nerds are much more likely than real-life jocks to become movie producers, directors and script-writers. 

Revenge of the Nerds (1984) and a host of sequels and imitators kept easily amused teens entertained and personified the era. Someone forgot to tell the makers of the Canadian production Prom Wars that this is 2008. Even the movie's tag-line "Love is a Battlefield", is stuck in decades past. 

Screenwriter Myles Hainsworth and Director Phil Price dust-off the concept of nerds facing off against jocks (mixed-up with preppies, in this case) from the nearby school, this time set against the framework of a half-baked competition to win the right to take the girls from yet another nearby school to the prom. 

A cast of relatively unknown young actors, lead by Ricky (Raviv) Ullman and Alia Shawkat, work hard to re-create ancient stereotypes and a positive impression that would hopefully lead to much better roles, to no avail. The usual assortment of characters is here: the really rich and snobby kid; the cool nerd; the girl-obsessed nerds; the pretty but snooty girl; and the less pretty but smarter girl; the strict headmistress; and the requisite black character. 

There is also a lame and unconvincing romance rattling around somewhere among all the heavily recycled ideas. If Prom Wars had been made twenty years ago, it would have been stale. In 2008, it positively reeks.


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