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Twenty years later, the prom still stinks



Does Kevin Bacon look happy? Of course not. You know why? He's going to prom! Everyone a year or more removed from high school realizes this one universal truth: The prom is the most overrated night of your life.

You never look great in that expensive dress or tux. Your stylist is going to massacre your hair the day before. The music will be awful. Your date will be a bore and will refuse to dance. And whatever sort of treat you have planned for after the prom ... forget it. Somehow it will all fall apart, you'll end up home alone and wonder what all the hype was about in the first place.

Blame it all on the movies. For most of our formulative years, we were bombarded by Hollywood with romantic images of this dance. It was practically a guarantee: We'd fall in love, get a dream date, be whisked away in a stretch limo, get elected prom king or queen, and all lose our virginity. (For my prom, the only thing I accomplished was the limo.)

Did you have a favorite movie about prom? Here are ours from the 80s:

Valley Girl: Randy (Nic Cage) loses Julie, only to plot a way to steal her back at the prom. For some reason, Josie Cotton is the chosen entertainment (How many proms feature the song "Johnny, Are You Queer?"). But it works, and they steal Tommy's limo and head off to the Valley Sheraton. Queue the Modern English song, and roll the credits. Fairytale grade: A-plus. Reality grade: C-minus.

Pretty in Pink: The John Hughes movie would immortalize OMD's song "If You Leave" as the de facto prom song of the late 80s. Andie (Molly Ringwald) makes her own prom dress, even though her date Blane ("That's not a name, that's a major appliance!") dumps her before the dance. Duckie saves the day but loses the girl when sad-sack Blane goes for the pity points ("I always believed in you. I just never believed in me"), creating the most unsatisfactory ending of any Hughes film. Fairytale grade: B-plus. Reality grade: D-minus.

Just One of the Guys: Terry (Joyce Griffith) switches schools and gender to prove that her school newspaper article is worthy of an award. She invites her female best friend to prom and then flashes her breasts to the guy she really loves. Strangely enough, only her brother -- wearing the obligatory tux t-shirt -- gets lucky. Fairytale grade: D-plus. Reality grade: B.

Footloose: For our heroes Ren, Willard and Ariel, it's not technically a prom, just a dance at the end of the school year. (That's a "prom" for everyone not living in Bomont ... or even neighboring Basen). But all the ingredients are here for the perfect prom movie: the strangely colored tuxes, unattractive dresses, awkard pinning of the corsage, the cheesey decorations and, of course, a fight outside the dance hall. Someone just explain how all these people suddenly learn their dance moves between "Almost Paradise" and the Kenny Loggin's title tune. Fairytale grade: B. Reality grade: A-minus. (Because no prom deserves an A-plus)

Which prom movies did we miss? Which ones are most and least realistic?

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:17pm]


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