Early reviews of Netflix’s The Prom are in and one actor is becoming the film’s sore spot. While most reviews are generally good for the movie musical, many see a common problem in James Corden.
The upcoming Netflix film, which releases on December 11, follows high school student Emma Nolan (played by Jo Ellen Pellman). Nolan is upset that her high school principal (Keegan-Michael Key) and the head of the PTA (Kerry Washington) have banned her from attending prom with her girlfriend Alyssa (Ariana DeBose). She then gains the surprise attention of Broadway legends Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden). The two, who are dealing with a recent musical flop, decide to help the small-town Indiana girl as a way to fix their public image. They are then joined by acting friends Angie (Nicole Kidman) and Trent (Andrew Rannells) in this loving, queer, and campy adventure.
The upcoming streaming movie is Netflix’s adaption of a Broadway musical that ended its run in 2019. In preparation for the December release, Netflix recently showed the movie to critics. And the reactions are not looking good for Corden.
The main, and huge, drawback is James Corden. His performance is gross and offensive, the worst gayface in a long, long time. It's horrifically bad. https://t.co/av5W0SlxFX
— Erik Anderson (@awards_watch) November 29, 2020
Erik Anderson, the founder of AwardsWatch, initially tweeted his positive thoughts after watching the film.
“Really liked #TheProm,” he wrote. “A gorgeous and vibrant production. Streep is hilarious and commanding. Keegan-Michael Key is dreamy. Kidman, Rannells and Washington are fun. Ariana Debose is winsome. But it’s Jo Ellen Pellman who has my heart in a wonderful, star-making turn.”
He then added his negative response to Corden’s performance, “The main, and huge, drawback is James Corden. His performance is gross and offensive, the worst gayface in a long, long time. It’s horrifically bad.”
Anderson wasn’t the only one. As Towleroad points out, Vanity Fair critic Richard Lawson tweeted, “It’s one of the worst film performances of the 21st century.”
It’s one of the worst film performances of the 21st century
— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) November 29, 2020
Here are other critic’s thoughts on Corden’s performance.
Except Corden. I seldom am upset by straight actors playing gay and found him offensive on top of wildly miscast. There are other actors, famous ones, straight ones even, who could have done this and better.
— Chris Feil (@chrisvfeil) November 29, 2020
THE PROM taught me a real lesson about tolerance. I used to think that it was permissible for a straight actor to play a gay character in some circumstances; now I'm willing to go hard-line against it if it means denying James Corden even one future role.
— jesse (@rockmarooned) November 29, 2020
“The Prom” shouts about tolerance but has James Corden leaning into effeminate gay stereotypes every chance he gets. Someone make it make sense?
— Zack Sharf (@ZSharf) November 30, 2020
It’s funny because i generally believe that you don’t need to be gay to play a gay character, and that arguing otherwise does more harm than good, but then we get james corden in #TheProm and it makes me rethink everything
— lauren 🌈🖖🏻 (@laurenjcoates) November 30, 2020
Corden isn’t the only one getting criticism for the film, however. While Corden is getting most of the pushback, there are some who point out that it was Ryan Murphy, a well-known gay producer and director, who directed the film. Murphy event went on the record to say that he was proud to create such a queer film. So we have to wonder how he could have let a possibly “offensive” or “questionable” performance make it into the finished product.
Ryan Murphy and James Corden making me not want to watch a musical with Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman helping lesbian youths is so homophobic
— Mandy Moore Facts (@iamtheaardvark) November 30, 2020
apparently james corden is just a stereotype in the prom (gasp who woulda guessed?) but while we're getting mad at him, let's direct some of that ire towards ryan murphy's bitch ass as well
— jada will not be participating in the civil war xo (@_mais_pourquoi_) November 30, 2020
But again, the film isn’t officially out to the public yet. We’ll have to wait until December 11 to see just how fun The Prom is and just how “questionable” James Corden’s specific performance appears.