‘Prom Dates’ is a Surface-Level Teen Movie with an Earnest Ending

By Daniel Hart
Published: May 3, 2024 (Last updated: 3 weeks ago)
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Prom Dates
Julia Lester (L) and Antonia Gentry (R) in Prom Dates (Credit - Hulu)

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

2.5

Summary

Prom Dates barely has rewatch value, but it is at least fun.

A movie about two teenagers trying to secure prom dates is hardly the most original idea of recent years, but I was hoping that Kevin Hart’s influence would shine through and provide some watch value. Prom Dates, which went straight to streaming, is actually not bad at all. 

Review: A Throwaway Movie Experience 

I’ll be honest; “not bad at all” is a compliment for what we are dealing with here. Generic teen fodder is rarely high on my watch list, but I was charmed by the two leads in this movie. Jess (played by Ginny & Georgia Antonia Gentry) and Hannah (Julia Lester) made a pact at 13 years old to have the “perfect prom.” However, when the day arrives years later, they both suffer break-ups from their dates and have 24 hours to secure a new date. 

Gentry and Lester have surprisingly great chemistry despite the script’s confinements. They sell the best friendship as they are bamboozled by various scenarios, attempting to make their Prom Night as perfect as possible. 

Prom Dates understands teenage pressure and progressive ideals, but in a surface-level way, which feels intentional by director Kim O. Nguyen. The movie doesn’t try to ram home the failures of being young but instead has fun with it, which is probably why the lead characters work so well with each other.

Hannah, for instance, is a closeted lesbian, but the movie humors her “coming out” story instead rather than making it into a serious teen drama. Sometimes, having fun with a film is okay; this story demonstrates that. 

But, on a more serious note, Prom Dates is hardly a memorable experience, and nor does it have re-watch value. It’s a throwaway, one-watch experience that provides the odd chuckle here and there. I’ve no idea how involved Kevin Hart was, but some of the jokes did land like they were his, but that could just be a coincidence. 

Prom Dates is the kind of film we are all becoming used to. A streamer filler that helps out an average day. Adrian Horton from The Guardian had a similar but harsher view by saying in her review

“Straining for prom, straining for laughs, straining to make something edgy or progressive. Straining the notions of comedy, and certainly one’s precious time.”

To be honest, if I were in a bad mood, I’d have probably said something similar. However, could I imagine a teenager picking up this movie and enjoying it? Absolutely. However, this is certainly not a film for critics or serious audiences. 

[WARNING: SPOILERS FROM HERE]

Ending Explained: It’s All About Friendship 

Julia Lester (L) and Antonia Gentry (R) in Prom Dates (Credit – Hulu)

Hannah and Jess spend so much time in the movie being so consumed by needing prom dates that they forget they have each other. Yes, the ending is about friendship, bringing a charming conclusion to an otherwise under-par movie. 

Jess wanted to be that Prom Queen, even if it meant betraying her character with a man who did not respect her. By the time the prom arrives, Jess knows that losing her friendship with Hannah for the sake of being Prom Queen with Luca is not worth it. Meanwhile, Hannah realized that her sexuality was important, and she shouldn’t have had a fake relationship with her ex-boyfriend Greg. 

At the prom, Hannah “comes out” as a lesbian to her peers on stage while also lending an appreciation to Greg. This leads to her securing a lesbian friendship with Angie (whom she hooked up with the night before). And despite Jess admitting to Hannah that she likes her brother, Jacob, she puts importance on herself rather than pursuing a relationship. 

The two girls dance together, honoring a pact they agreed on when they were both 13 years old—”to have a perfect prom.” The realization hits them that a perfect prom means having each other’s friendship. This is a salient message for today’s young people, highlighting the significance of strong friendships. 


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