LGBT Movies: Prom Queen (2004)

In 2002 the Durham Catholic School Board barred Marc Hall from taking his boyfriend to the prom. He sued them. The story inspired a film, Prom Queen: The Marc Hall Story, which premiered on CTV Television Network in 2004. Aaron Ashmore plays the title role sympathetically. But he gets buried under a large supporting cast of friends and foes. The screenplay has the earnest tone of an after school special. Brief fantasy interludes suggest that someone wanted to make a campier film but got overruled.   

Ryan Murphy’s The Prom premieres on December 11, 2020. Jonathan Butterell’s Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is scheduled for February 26, 2021. Both are musical adaptations that cover similar subject matter. Let’s take a look at Marc Hall’s story before they launch.

Learn more in my spoiler filled recap.

Act One: Discrimination

Scene One: Catholic High School
(We begin with a fantasy dance sequence that doesn’t really fit the film’s tone.)  

MARC (Aaron Ashmore): Two tickets to prom please. My date’s name is Jason.  
PRINCIPAL (Kids in the Hall’s Dave Foley): Two men can’t go to prom. This is a Catholic school.

STRAIGHT FRIENDS: If Marc can’t go to prom, we’ll organize a protest! It will give us a subplot!
MARC: Thanks for appropriating my story being good allies!

JASON (Marc’s semi-closeted boyfriend): I never agreed to go to prom.
MARC: That couldn’t possibly foreshadow a rift in our relationship.

Scene Two: Marc’s Home
MARC: Mom, Dad, they banned me from prom because… I’m gay.
MOM: We know you’re gay. “Your hair is blue and you have a poster of Celine Dion.”

Scene Three: School Board Meeting
WOKE TEACHER: You and Jason could just bring beards to prom.
MARC: That’s not fair. I’ll ask the school board if they’ll overturn the Principal’s decision.

Act Two: Lawsuit

Scene Four: Marc’s Home
(We get some animated title cards that don’t really fit the film’s tone.)

VAIN ATTORNEY (Kids in the Hall’s Scott Thompson):  Let’s sue your school. They’ve gone against Canada’s Section 15. I’ll work pro bono. And I’ll be famous. BUT IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!

Scene Five: Pressure
PRINCIPAL: You’ll lose your scholarship if you do this. We don’t really explain why. It’s presumably a Catholic related scholarship?
WOKE TEACHER: The school will fire me if I support you.
JASON: This media attention is too much. I’m done. All you care about is fame.
MARC: That’s not true.
FAN: Marc Hall can I have your autograph?
MARC: Doh!

Scene Six: Marc’s Home
MARC: I have to give up this lawsuit. (Marc washes the blue out of his hair.)
RANDO on the PHONE: You’re my hero Marc. You helped me come out.
MARC: I can’t give up this lawsuit. (Marc re-dyes his hair blue.)

Act Three: Prom

Scene Seven: Court House
(Students walk out of school to support Marc at the courthouse.)
MARC: Your honor, I’d like to make an inspirational speech. I know I haven’t had much character development. But I don’t have to be an interesting or complicated person. I’m just a kid who wants to go to prom. And who deserves your respect.

Scene Eight: Marc’s Home
(Cut to Marc at home. Phone rings.)
MARC: I’m going to prom! Apparently, the court gives rulings over the phone?
MOM & DAD: We’re proud of you!
RANDOM BUSINESS MAN: We’re giving you a scholarship! To make up for the one you lost for unexplained reasons.

(Jason and the straight kids ride up in a limo.)
JASON: And I’m back to take you to prom.
RANDOM OTHER GAY TEEN: And thanks to you I’m taking my boyfriend to prom too!
MARC: Who are you? Doesn’t matter. That’s great!

(Prom montage. Marc and Jason kiss.)


Shall We Dance?

“This [experience] made me much more comfortable in my own skin.

Marc Hall

Marc Hall and his boyfriend were allowed to attend prom. But they parted ways soon after. The court case stretched out for three more years before Hall and his team withdrew. The film captures the pressure that the case put the couple under. Their arguments are the most interesting scenes in the screenplay.

The rest of the film lacks nuance. The homophobes are cartoons and the straight friends are cliches. The vain lawyer has potential but there’s no time to develop him. Today the film works better as a historical document than as entertainment. Here’s hoping Ryan Murphy’s film has a little more Zazz.


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