Prom King, 2010 is a film by Christopher Schaap that chronicles the various relationships of a young gay man named Charlie as he navigates through his college years. While it’s impressive that Schaap takes on the role of writer, director, and main character, I can’t help but feel his acting suffers at times (one scene in particular involving a meltdown and cookies feels inorganic and just plain bad), but as a whole the film is a solid one that examines a man obsessed with that old school Hollywood representation of love and relationships. In a lot of ways, the character of Charlie reminds me of Molly Ringwald’s character in Pretty in Pink, but without the overt cynicism. A major complaint I have with the story is that Charlie doesn’t seem to learn anything from his relationship highs and lows; Charlie feels resistant to change despite his experiences, and it makes the character feel stagnant and at times incredibly annoying.
“The film has warmth to it that makes it an enjoyable watch…”
Charlie is inexperienced in life, love, and sex. The film establishes that he had a relationship with a Mormon as a young boy, and since then he’s been chasing the ever so elusive perfect love; the kind with magical imaginary fireworks, and sparks, music swells and what not. We’re taken on Charlie’s journey as he experiences various relationship blunders like dating the older guy, dating the guy who already has a boyfriend, dating the guy who is still in love with his ex, dating the guy who isn’t ready to come out to his parents, and pining after someone who just sees him only as a friend. It’s an interesting story to tell, but again it just feels like Charlie learns nothing from his inevitable heartbreaks and I’d have preferred to see him grow and mature past his impossibly high expectations for romance and love. I know there are actually people out there who think and act like Charlie, but I can’t stand to be around those kinds of people and it’s frustrating to watch a movie centered on somebody like that. I wish we’d seen some obvious character growth in this, but the film ends with a cynical scene with Charlie that feels unearned, and seconds later it’s heavily implied he’s ready to make the same mistakes again and again. There’s also a plotline involving a religious Aunt that goes by completely unresolved. It feels like it either needed to be expanded upon, or taken out completely. It went nowhere, and just served as a five-minute time killer.
“A major complaint I have with the story is that Charlie doesn’t seem to learn anything from his relationship highs and lows…”
With that said, the film looked wonderful, and the cast (aside from a few weaker scenes with Schaap) did a fantastic job. I particularly loved Adam Lee Brown as Thomas; an older and much wiser gay man who I honestly wished Charlie would become more like throughout the duration of the film. Another standout is Charlie’s best friend Grace (played by Nicole Wood), their scenes together felt genuine and heartwarming. I loved her breakdown when she admitted that her own relationship was far from perfect. The film has warmth to it that makes it an enjoyable watch, and I wish I could rate it higher, but personal preference desired more from the script and story. At a certain point, Charlie should have reflected on his experiences and applied his learned lessons. Consistently naïve characters just do not appeal to me, but you cannot deny the sweet and tender qualities this film possesses, and I do think this film is engaging and an easy watch. I love the usage of time as a framing device, but I feel like it could have taken a good movie and elevated it to a great one if there was just a hint of character evolution.
Prom King, 2010 (2017) Written and Directed by: Christopher Schaap. Starring: Christopher Schaapp, Nicole Wood, Frans Dam, Adam Lee Brown, Aaron Luis Profumo, Matthew Brown, Matthew Luke Sandoval
7 out of 10