(director: Ryan Murphy; screenwriters: Bob Martin/Chad Bequelin; cinematographer: Matthew Libatique; editors:Danielle Wong/Peggy Tachdjian; music: Matthew Sklar, Chad Beguelin, David Klotz; cast: Meryl Streep (Dee Dee Allen), James Corden (Barry Glickman), Nicole Kidman (Angie Dickinson), Kerry Washington (Mrs. Greene), Keegan-Michael Key (Principal Tom Hawkins), Andrew Rannells (Trent Oliver), Jo Ellen Pellman (Emma Nolan), Ariana DeBose (Ayssa Greene), Tracey Ullman (Vera), Kevin Chamberlin (Sheldon), Logan Riley (Kaylee), Mary Kay Place (Grandma Bea); Runtime: 130; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Ryan Murphy, Alexis Martin Woodall, Adam Anders, Dori Berinstein, Bill Damaschke; Netflix; 2020)
“The poorly paced musical seems to go on forever.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A dated lesbian feel-good film directed by Ryan Murphy (“Glee”/”American Horror Show”) with much strain, mush and too much of loudmouth Corden to take in one sitting. It’s forgettable as forced entertainment, as written by Bob Martin and Chad Bequelin, from material supposedly based on real events.
The lesbian teenager Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman), from Indiana, finds herself left out of her school prom when the conservative PTA committee led by its right-wing chairperson Mrs. Greene (Kerry Washington) finds out that she wants to bring her girlfriend Alyssa (Ariana DeBose), the daughter of the chairperson, and thereby cancels the event.
The story is presented as a parody of celeb behavior. When Broadway stars Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep), a diva, and, the showy gay, Barry Glickman (James Corden), latest Broadway show is a flop, they find on Twitter a cause to promote to keep their names in the public eye. They are joined by the aging chorus girl Angie Dickinson (Nicole Kidman) and the struggling actor/bartender Trent (Andrew Rannells), as they trek to Indiana to join forces to back Emma’s noble cause. What at first goes for a generous gesture, soon seems more about the conceit of playing the star card.
Streep seems to have fun singing “It’s Not About Me.”
The poorly paced musical seems to go on forever, with Streep and Kidman turning out a string of jazzy Broadway songs about showbiz and paying only lip service to what it means to be a LGBT teenager in the sticks of Indiana. Another musical number of note is the biblical piece set in a mall, that’s entitled “Love Thy Neighbor.”
REVIEWED ON 12/31/2020 GRADE: C