JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Prom Queen: The Marc Hall Story (Director: John L'Écuyer) - January 13, 2005

Prom Queen: The Marc Hall Story

3 3
92 min.

Reviewed at the 2005 Palm Springs International Film Festival
Getting there is half the fun

The high school prom is a rite of passage that permits graduating students a special night of pretending to be adults: dressing up, going to the dance and, well, getting laid. Even the Catholic Church realizes that, since dancing is the prelude to increasing the flock, then a little old-fashioned “hanky-panky” can be tolerated-so long as the working parts involved are capable of procreation.

Leave it to “small-town Ontario” to produce a rebel with a cause: totally-out teen Marc Hall (Aaron Ashmore in an invigorating if somewhat shallow portrayal, “losing everything” then girding his loins for the final battle through the plight of an anonymous admirer) takes on the school board and demands his Canadian Charter rights and, so takes his boyfriend Jason (Mac Fyfe—more set dressing than active participant) to the dance.

Based on a true story, the writers (Michael MacLennan and Kent Staines) have opted to take the drama-lite route, which assured its airing on CTV, but results in near-trivialization of the important themes so as not to offend any potential sponsors.

Cue the stereotypes: Hall’s male classmates are in total awe of the “power of the pussy,” breaking their aching balls to ensure the post-party motel rooms will be suitable for activity a few steps beyond pocket pool. Once the “BOARD BANS GAY COUPLE FROM PROM” goes public, a pair of computer nerds (Philip Eddolls, Daniel Karasik; one replete with horn-rim glasses held together by tape) agree to set up a proactive website in return for babes on the famed night. A fellow student denounces homosexual acts as depraved, only to be spotted with a beau on his arm in Toronto’s gay village—coincidentally the very first time Hall and his pro bono lawyer (Scott Thompson who is totally credible as the publicity-seeking brain-trust behind the legal action) take the Boystown tour.

Thompson’s former Kids in the Hall partner, Dave Foley as Principal Warrick, doesn’t work as well. Even sporting an authoritarian goatee, he’s shackled by a running non-gag (“all-manner of dictums” are announced over the intercom always ending with “no exceptions”) so that no one is surprised when the entire student body skips class to attend Hall’s hearing: no exceptions II.

The women do better. As Miss Lawrence, Victoria Adilman does an excellent job of supporting human rights in the classroom then going Judas one better by caving to Catholic dogma in the courtroom. Fiona Reid is wonderfully controlling as school board chair Lucinda Pilcher, and has just the right touch of feigned remorse: When overruled by the judgment she opines “We may have to change with the times,” but read her lips.

Ever mindful of commercial breaks, director John L’Écuyer has done an admirable job trying to let the story flow, employing animated headings to bring the next scene back from black. But he’s unable to really let the action fly: We hear of Hall and boyfriend Jason’s breakup, the court ruling comes our way via fax, the local union organizer (David Ferry, eagerly awaiting some lines) enters the film reeking of sub-plot (Hall’s father, Paul Zabriskie, who works at he local mill where some of his co-workers are getting pink slips, seems on the verge of a big scene with his blue-haired son but, again, the writers fail to oblige), but the payoff is a one-page scholarship letter adding more Pollyana than gritty development.

Still, the proceedings are a pleasure to watch and, with Gary Koftinoff & Company’s music tracks, sound great. No matter what your persuasion, it’s fun for the whole family and, hopefully, sets the stage for L’Écuyer’s next feature which should be made for the big screen before wide distribution on the public airwaves. JWR

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