Prom – the quintessential scene in every high school movie. As one of the defining moments of American adolescence, why shouldn’t it be? Pre-prom decisions can be stressful: what to wear? Who to go with? What kind of limo to take?
These classic films have all the answers. They give advice from everything to prom dresses (Pretty in Pink) to pre-prom makeovers (She’s All That) to lessons in what NOT to do (Carrie)!
Pretty in Pink: The Art of the Perfect Prom Dress
Like most John Hughes movies (think: The Breakfast Club, 16 Candles), this Molly Ringwald movie is as light as air but leaves the audience satisfied on a deeper level. Hughes may skim over the darker sides of adolescence, but his teenagers have problems too! Ringwald as Andie is as charming as ever. Andie’s a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who has a crush on Blane McDonough (Andrew McCarthy), the perfect representation of the All-American boy. The focus of the movie – the transformation of an old-fashioned pink dress – is as fresh as it was more than twenty years before, if the fashions haven’t aged quite as well! This film features one of the quintessential prom scenes that never fails to disappoint.
She’s All That: Leave Your Glasses at Home!
This re-telling of the classic Pygmalian story features Freddie Prinze, Jr. in one of his most popular and enduring roles. As the popular Zach, Prinze makes a bet that he can transform any girl in the school into the Prom Queen; his cronies promptly pick Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook), a “nerdy” art geek. The film traces Laney’s transformation (though anybody can see at the beginning that Cook is stunningly beautiful, even in glasses and overalls) and her eventual discovery of the bet. Though the film’s the movie equivalent of cotton candy, it’s also every bit as satisfying.
Never Been Kissed: Prom for the Older Crowd
In a refreshing take on the high school film, Never Been Kissed features Drew Barrymore as a 25-year-old dowdy reporter who goes undercover as a high school student. Unlike in She’s All That, the transformation here is marked, as Barrymore goes from dowdy to (the late ‘90s version of) stunning. As with many other prom movies, the heroine is torn between the popular-but-shallow group and the witty-but-nerdy crowd. However, Never Been Kissed treats these old clichés with an unparalleled sense of humor, and Barrymore’s performance is charming. The prom scene (featuring three popular girls all dressed as Barbie) also plays with a lot of the old standbys but gives a much fresher take.
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion: A Cautionary Tale
This quirky film, featuring two ditzy late-20s friends (Romy – Mira Sorvino, and Michele – Lisa Kudrow), only has a brief prom scene as a flashback, but the rest of the film makes it worth the wait for the ridiculous costumes and bizarre behavior it displays. The majority of the story traces the two women’s attempts to impress their former classmates at their 10-year-high school reunion (keep an eye out for Kudrow reciting the chemical formula for glue). Although the prom itself only plays a small role in the overall storyline, the film’s a great reminder that – as important as this night may seem at the time – a whole world waits out there beyond high school.