Basic and Bland

“Prom Pact” is a typical Disney film with an unoriginal high schol plotline, despite its strong cast of actors


Promotional material by Disney+ Originals

When Mandy Yang asks if something is “a good different or a bad different,” unfortunately Mandy, the “Prom Pact” sways towards a bad different with a few notable positives. 

Released on Disney+, theProm Pact” (a Disney original) follows high school best friends Mandy Yang (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) and Ben Plunkett (Milo Manheim) as they struggle with typical high school issues involving academics, friendship and love interests. Even though the lighthearted film is an easy and fun watch, the film fails to seek originality within those “basic” plotlines. 

As two outsiders who judge high school activities and people, Plunkett imagines himself looking back to his supposed “glory days” of high school and worries that those memories won’t be “glorious” enough if he doesn’t come out of his shell. Simultaneously, Yang makes it known that her one and only goal is to attend Harvard University and when she gets waitlisted, she’s forced to explore other options to try to get accepted. 

Both characters are faced with stereotypical problems, but the directors missed the opportunity to expand these ideas into something unique. Although each character had different issues and personalities, they all appeared shallow and superficial. As a viewer, I formed zero emotional attachments with the characters which is a clear example of the film’s mistakes. The point of a film is to engage the audience in a new world as an escape from reality. Yes, I related to Yang and her college application anxiety. Yes, I related to Plunkett on his fears for the future. But those were all surface-level connections with no real purpose to the viewers.

Despite this, I have to make something clear. I am well aware of the fact that Disney movies are not supposed to have complex plotlines with crazy deep characters. Clearly, it would not be correct to compare the “Prom Pactto an Oscar award-winning movie because the audiences are different. While Disney appeals to a younger audience, I still feel that the film could’ve gone further to make the story unique. It didn’t necessarily have to include more complexity, but the missing piece is originality. I have seen a plethora of coming-of-age movies that frankly felt identical to the “Prom Pact,just with different character names. 

As the two make plans for solutions to their issues, love interests intervene to disrupt Yang’s and Plunkett’s friendship. As for Yang, even her “unexpected” love interest was predictable. The typical popular jock with the perfect social life with the feminist outsider who has only ever criticized high school. Graham Lansing (Blake Draper) and Yang’s relationship prove to restrict and limit her friendship with Plunkett. Plunkett is willing to let even his huge crush, LaToya Reynolds (Monique A. Green), go, while Yang on the other hand has a difficulty in evaluating her values. The two go through numerous ups and downs all the way to the end of the film which helps add to the show’s variety. 

While the film continued to show its cliches through the end, at the end of the day, the film succeeded in being a wholesome watch without looking too closely at every plot line. I guess that really is Disney’s specialty. Additionally, the actors and actresses performed well under the restrictive script guidelines. Lee’s depiction of Yang’s character development is really shown throughout the film as it was a very clear upward trajectory of her growth. I applaud Lee for making lemonade out of lemons. Not only did Lee perform well, but Manheim also depicted a nervous teenager beautifully. Plunkett being a naturally awkward and shy guy, Manheim’s specific actions like stumbling on his words or nervously shaking really sold the act.

In any case, if you are in need of a background-playing movie, this is the one to turn on.