Hello everyone! Welcome back to BirthMay 2022! Today’s post is all about The Prom, Turning Red, and The Lizzie McGuire Movie.
In case you’re new, every May I blog every day and call it BirthMay! Why? Because it’s my birth month and I’m super extra.
I am so excited to share my thoughts on these films! I’ve been trying to watch more movies in general, and these posts are great motivation for me to finally hit “play” on a bunch of movies. Oh, I will start spoiler free with some summaries and brief thoughts, but then give a warning before spoilers start, so here we go!
Movies I’ve Watched Recently – The Prom
First up is The Prom! I watched this one on Netflix. This is the film adaptation of the musical by the same name and features a star studded cast. It was released back in 2020 and I did start it a few months ago but only restarted/finished it recently.
The film features the main character, Emma, a young lesbian student in Indiana who is being blamed for her school’s PTA’s decision to cancel prom in order to prevent Emma from bringing her girlfriend. Her story draws some attention on social media, catching the eyes of some Broadway stars whose careers have begun to struggle after their show closed on opening night due to poor reviews or have passed over for a leading role. They decide Emma’s “cause” will be what revitalizes their careers and make it their mission to make sure Emma has a prom.
I loved this film! The music was so fun and the characters were great. Everyone got a chance to shine, and the story was super heartfelt. I have not seen the musical in person, but it is definitely on the list now that I’ve seen the film! I also loved how real the story felt. The story isn’t based on one true story, but it is full of real situations. Everything from gay/lesbian people being ostracized from their communities, struggling actors, intolerable PTAs, and viral videos on the internet make an appearance. It’s a very modern take on contemporary themes in a very glittery show. Literally, there are so many sequins everywhere!
I loved how amazing all the actors were in their equally entertaining characters. The Broadway Actors were a hilarious set of people. The characters were so outrageously self-centered and narcissistic in such a fun way, and they were so out of place in Indiana! But it was absolutely entertaining and fun to see the Broadway crew and the Indiana folks interact.
I do recommend this film for a fun and enjoyable watching experience. Okay, skip the next few paragraphs if you don’t want to read any spoilers! I’m assuming if you continue reading that you’ve watched the film, so if you haven’t then skip to the next header for my thoughts on Turning Red or further down for The Lizzie McGuire Movie!
*SPOILERS AHEAD* Can I just start with that absolutely heart-wrenching scene where Emma walks in to a completely empty prom at the school gym? I felt so bad for her! It was that whole “separate but equal” nonsense and it was crazy that both parents AND students conspired to make sure Emma and the principal were kept in the dark about the change of venue for the “straight” prom. How insane! Now, I went to a pretty big high school, so I can’t imagine the logistics of planning two separate proms without anyone spilling the beans to Emma or Principal Hawkins (and, I suppose, Alyssa and the Broadway actors) while simultaneously making sure everyone but those two were aware of the venue change. Ah movie logic! But seriously, how sad was that scene???
*MORE SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH* Also, back to the Broadway meets Indiana thing. I loved how out of place the Broadway people were when they rolled into Indiana covered in sequins and glam. Even though they were trying to help out Emma, it was just so funny at how they were so narcissistic about it! Emma was so confused why they were helping her, and while the intentions did become genuine after awhile, at first the Broadway crew were just completely focused on helping Emma in order to help themselves and it was funny to see how they struggled to find a way to actually help at the start. It was so nice to see that the Broadway crew were able to enjoy the gay prom though, and it was so cool to see how it all came together. While it may not be as easy to change a town with a prom, it was still really uplifting to see Emma and Alyssa finally get to be in a public relationship after everything.
Movies I’ve Watched Recently – Turning Red
After seeing this film heavily promoted on TikTok and YouTube, as well as hearing the silly “controversy” about the film referring to periods when the main character is a young teen girl, I had to watch this one! Turning Red is available on Disney+.
This 2022 Disney Pixar film features Mei, a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl. On the surface level, Mei is a dedicated, high-achieving student who lives with her doting parents. Her grades are exemplary, she is an accomplished flutist, has a close group of friends, and even helps her parents run the family temple after school. On a deeper level, Mei is struggling with pleasing her controlling mother, Ming, while also attempting to learn who she is and craves the freedom to be able to do so. This is further complicated when Mei’s family curse reveals itself, leading Mei to transform into a giant red panda when she has strong emotions. And, as we all know, teens have wayyyyyy too many emotions and not enough life experience to be able to handle them!
Mei and her mother’s relationship is so complex and real in the film. Ming believes she knows Mei so well, and that they are so close, while Mei is actively hiding her passions and even an obsession on a boy band from Ming. This is further intensified when Ming then attempts to control Mei’s transformations, while Mei is curious about the curse and even finds a way to monetize it to achieve her goals (what a businesswoman!).
In the end, the film is a beautiful representation for that difficult period of time when a child transitions to their teenage years, and the struggles that come with it. My own teenage years are pretty far behind me now, but it was still so relatable and such a flashback to those experiences! It’s hard to keep this review to spoiler-free only, because there’s so much to talk about!
I honestly did love Mei’s character. It was so funny to walk her beginning monologue about how she’s so independent and in charge of her own life, but then to see how easily she bends to her mother and how unwilling she is to disappoint her parents. She’s such a typical teen! Her friends, Abby, Priya, and Miriam, are all so funny as well! They’re a fairly diverse group, all united by their obsession with 4*Town, which reminds me of the boy bands of my own youth. It’s nice to see some things never change! It’s also so funny to see how close the friends are and how supportive they are of one another.
I did think that the film highlighted Chinese culture too. It’s been really cool to see films feature different types of characters, cultures, and yet still make it incredibly familiar to anyone. Sure, the red panda curse is fictionalized, but the family dynamics are familiar to many cultures. The religious devotion aspects of families is also recognizable as that indoctrination does tend to come from family expectations. And anyone who has gone through puberty already can certainly recognize themselves in that portion of the film!
I do recommend this film of course! While animated films aren’t necessarily everyone’s favorite, especially when the target audience is children and families, it is still a lot of fun and a great Pixar film. Okay, now onto spoilers so if you don’t want to be spoiled, skip ahead to the Lizzie McGuire Movie section!
*SPOILERS AHEAD* How amazing was Mei and her friend’s entrepreneurial skills? I was incredibly amused by the scenes when they set up a meet and greet type event in an empty classroom and start profiting off Mei’s family curse! I’m officially calling it RedPandaCon and Mei is the top featured creator for sure. I absolutely loved that they were able to transition so quickly to exclusive and limited edition merch drops, media creation, and even paid guest appearances at birthday parties! It made for such an enjoyable middle portion of the film. I also loved that Mei was able to push past her desire to heed her mom’s warning to not transform. It was so cool watching Mei embrace the “curse”, with the help of her friends and classmates who adored the panda almost immediately.
*MORE SPOILERS AHEAD* Now, upon seeing Ming’s panda it was pretty easy to see why Ming was so anti-panda. Her panda was giant! While Mei’s panda was much more reasonably sized, it was pretty clear why Ming didn’t have the option to embrace her own panda, especially if she had multiple women in her family trash-talking their own pandas. It was nice that Mei had a strong support system and even an adoring fan-base to help her reconcile with her panda. It did make sense that the family cautioned Mei against transforming. With each positive interaction with her panda, it was clear Mei was becoming more and more attached to her alternate body. While the other women seemed to think of their pandas as complete “others”, alluding to the panda gaining strength over them if they transformed too often before their ritual, Mei’s situation just seemed to be genuine appreciation and attachment to her panda body. For Mei, the panda seemed more like another outfit she might chose to wear or another hairstyle she might revert back to every once in awhile. It was really so cool to see her embrace what made her unique and different rather than lock her ability to become a panda away.
*EVEN MORE SPOILERS AHEAD* I loved how the end resolved itself too. While the rest of Mei’s female relatives chose to go through the ritual again, they ultimately respected Mei’s decision to keep her panda and her parents even continued RedPandaCon at their temple! It was too funny to see her dad “cover” for Mei using the ridiculous red panda cardboard suit! I’m guessing they were probably awaiting a custom cosplay of Mei’s Red Panda for future use or it was dry cleaning day or something. Even so, seeing Mei stand up to her mom and exclaiming “MY PANDA, MY CHOICE!” was a great way for Mei to continue to assert her decision and seeing Ming immediately accept Mei’s choice and back off was important to see too. I really enjoyed this film and I’m so glad I watched it!
Movies I’ve Watched Recently – The Lizzie McGuire Movie
Onto the last film for the post! Of course, this wasn’t the first time I’ve watched The Lizzie McGuire Movie, but it was the first time in years that I had!
This 2003 film was the finale to the Disney Channel show Lizzie McGuire. In the film, Lizzie graduates junior-high school and heads off on an international graduation trip to Rome. A group of who knows how many children are to be chaperoned by one adult, so what could possibly go wrong? Well, it soon becomes clear that Lizzie strongly resembles an Italian pop star, Isabella, and starts working with Isabella’s singing partner Paolo to stand-in for the unavailable Isabella during the International Music Video Awards.
Now, this film is so old, I think I can basically go straight into spoilers! The only non-spoiler bit will be the rest of this paragraph and the rest will be spoilers! This film is so fun and nostalgic! At this point, I could barely remember the original show as it’s been so long, but the film is just as fun and outrageous as I remember. Lizzie is such a funny, insecure klutz, as many of us are in those teen years (or at least I was!). It’s such a wild adventure and such a good time!
I will start off by saying that I always forget they were graduating junior high school??? I totally thought they were graduating high school, even though I’ve seen plenty of TikToks expressing surprise over this fact. I 100% watched almost the entire film thinking it was a high school trip until the last scene since I think they allude to the fact that they are heading to high school soon.
When I thought they were 18-year-old high school graduates, the one chaperone made sense. What didn’t make sense was the fact that they weren’t allowed to explore on their own. I remember thinking “they’re about to go to college, let them wander around a few hours a day on their own already!” but the fact that they’re meant to be 14 or 15-year-olds didn’t really make much sense either. All those kids for ONE chaperone? Now it just feels negligent. It’s crazy how just a few years can change that perspective!
Of course, a 15-year-old Lizzie being tricked and manipulated to pretend to be sick so she can fool her chaperone and pretend to be a famous pop star is more believable than an 18-year-old Lizzie falling for the same situation, so I guess that makes sense. It was still insane that Lizzie even agreed to the plan at all! If it hadn’t been for Gordo insisting he’d cover for her, and even Kate helping out, I don’t think Lizzie would have been so moved to meet with Paolo and go along with it. By the time Gordo wised up to the plan though, it was far too late. Teen Lizzie was too enthralled! Wait, actually, that makes sense at any age. I mean, if a pop star came up to 31-year-old Pamela, would I go off to pretend to be a famous pop star for a day? Honestly, yeah but that’s because I’m a Leo Rising who thinks the world revolves around me, not because I’d be madly in love with the pop star who has the audacity to attempt to share MY stage. Oh boy, okay this is getting to my head, so let’s get back to the film.
Something that stood out to me a ton was the pacing of the film. It was perfect! Every time I started to wonder “wait, what happens next again?” or “hold on, how did this get resolved again?” the next scene would answer that question. Of course, that might be my brain subconsciously remembering and prompting me to wonder at just the right time, but it made it more enjoyable to get the questions answered so quickly.
And, of course, that iconic performance. It is so crazy that Disney really had a generation of us believing the Colosseum was a functioning concert venue. The concert scene was so fun to watch again! And then seeing the aftermath at the hotel where Lizzie’s parents tell her she’s grounded for the rest of the summer? So relatable! Parents are always all for the fun but then immediately turn to punishment! Lizzie was just trying to live her life! Have an amazing Italian adventure! Experience Rome in a whole new way! Get her music career started! Honestly, how the agents weren’t swarming to her is beyond me. Or maybe that would have been the sequel series or movie, Lizzie leaving high school to be a pop star, perhaps collabing with Isabella from time to time. Ah, what could have been!
Anyway, all this to say that The Lizzie McGuire Movie is as enjoyable as ever, even with the early 2000s fashion and lack of cell phones!
So those are my thoughts on these three films. Feel free to share your own but be sure to mark them as spoilers if they contain any!
Thanks for reading!
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