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Posted at 1:58 PM ET, 04/30/2010

Friday List: The best prom scenes ever

By Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly

This weekend, we enter the month of May. And that means it's officially high school prom season, that wonderful time of year when you can't get a table at the restaurant of your choice because a bunch of 17-year-olds wearing ill-fitting tuxes and BCBG dresses have a reservation and you don't. Not coincidentally, this Saturday also marks an event that some media types and politicos refer to as "The Nerd Prom," otherwise known as the White House Correspondents' Dinner, a night to dress up, booze up and suck up to the Washington and Hollywood elite.


Best. Prom. Trio. Ever. (Paramount)

In honor of this special moment, we could wax nostalgically about our own "magical" prom nights -- Liz, on the outs with her then-boyfriend, spent hers' eating frozen pizza, drinking a 2-liter bottle of Cherry Smash and watching "The Color Purple," while Jen rode in a luxury coach that leaked air-conditioning fluid all over a friend's tuxedo jacket and, at the end of the evening, took her first sip of alcohol in the form of a strawberry-flavored wine cooler.

Or, for reasons that should be obvious based on our previous prom night descriptions, we could instead regale you with our list of 10 excellent movie prom scenes. This collection will not only make you want to slide on some taffeta and uncomfortable shoes, it also may teach a few important prom-related lessons,from what to wear (borrow a frock from your boss, cut it apart and refashion into your own quirky creation) to what to avoid (buckets of blood).

1. "Pretty in Pink"

"What about prom, Blane?"
Say the words "prom" and "movie" and immediately the mind flashes through myriad images from this Molly Ringwald teen classic: that (let's admit it) hideous, DIY, doily-meets-tablecloth of a dress; a dejected Andrew McCarthy sitting alone at the dance while listening to the sounds of OMD; James Spader, in all his obnoxious hotness, trying to drag girlfriend Benny straight to their hotel room; and, of course, Jon Cryer moving his duck shoes across the dance floor in the direction of Kristy Swanson. All these years later, we still need it all now like we needed it then.

Important lesson learned: Prom night really can be an opportunity to show all the snobs in school that you're not going to let them break you. And if the night ends with a McCarthy make-out session? That's a bonus.

2. "Footloose"

Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer and co. spend nearly two hours trying to get the opportunity to dance without condemnation. When they finally get permission to tear it up on prom night, it's a moment of sheer, '80s movie joy, even with Kenny Loggins on lead soundtrack vocals.


Lesson learned:
No man can stop teens from having a total killer prom. Not even John Lithgow.

3. "Grease"

Technically, everyone at this Rydell High prom was in their 20s and 30s. But so what? Put Sha Na Na, John Travolta and soon-to-be "Glee" guest star Olivia Newton-John in a gymnasium, then give them a license to hand jive and you're got yourself a prom scene for the ages.

Lesson learned: On prom night -- or for that matter, any night -- never trust a girl named Cha Cha.

4. "Carrie"

Another prom scene classic featuring Travolta, although this time, he's decidedly less awesome. As boyfriend of the mean-spirited Nancy Allen, he conspires to dump a bucket of pig's blood on the waifish, wallflower-ish Sissy Spacek (in the role of Carrie). But she gets her revenge, unleashing her telekinetic powers on a roomful of unsuspecting prom goers.


Lesson learned:
It's not nice to dump pig's blood on newly anointed prom queens.

5."Never Been Kissed"

The premise of this teen rom-com is hardly believable: A 25-year-old copy editor goes undercover as a high school student, sheds her nerdy exterior and falls for her English teacher (played by the white-hot Michael Vartan), but the movie is charming anyway. And what a prom scene: Barrymore is crowned queen (thereby allowing her to let go of her own high school prom nightmare), dances with Vartan (sparks a'plenty) and wears a show-stopping dress. Of course, since it's also the climactic scene of the film, things take a turn for the worse when Barrymore outs herself, ruining her perfect prom do-over and losing the trust of Vartan.

Lesson learned: Prom is for teens, not 20-somethings.

6. "Twilight"

We're not going to pretend that "Twilight" is one of the greatest movies ever made. But it's completely understandable that the gorgeous prom scene -- with its Monte Carlo theme, its high-on-a-mountaintop setting and that Bella/Edward dance in a beautifully illuminated gazebo -- made tweens (and some of their moms) swoon.

Lesson learned: Vampires really can make perfect -- albeit a little intense -- prom dates.

7. "She's All That"

The Rachel Leigh Cook nerd-turned-hottie comedy isn't exactly all that. But its prom moment -- with Usher as DJ and a roomful of kids dancing in unison to Fatboy Slim -- is pretty irresistible. So much so, in fact, that real kids have even tried to replicate it.

Lesson learned: Prom is way better with choreography.

8. "American Pie"

Okay, so technically it's not the prom scene that's so great in this smutty, funny summer hit from 1999. It's the after-prom party that delivers in ways too randy to fully describe on a Web site with editorial standards like this one. But let's just say those ways involve an exceedingly smooth Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jennifer Coolidge as Stifler's mother and Alyson Hannigan insisting rather forcefully that Jason Biggs say her name.

Lesson learned: Girls who went to band camp can be really fun on prom night.

9. "Saved!"

This little-seen indie satire doesn't exactly keep things subtle; after all, its main character is a Christian high school student named Mary (Jena Malone) who winds up getting pregnant. But it's often sharp and funny, and its prom scene -- in which an ultra-judgmental Mandy Moore rams her car into a cutout of Jesus -- brings the proceedings to an appropriately over-the-top climax.

Lesson learned: Those who wear prom dresses should not cast stones.

10. "Not Another Teen Movie"

Pretty much every convention or trope in every movie mentioned on this list gets a rich send-up in this parody. Of course, that means there's a big, 'ol prom scene in this movie, complete with a musical number that feature occasional NSFW language. (And, for those who choose to watch the whole flick, there's also a cameo by that alt-prom-queen featured in our No. 1 pick on this list: Molly Ringwald.)


Did we leave out your favorite celluloid prom scene? Add it below in comments...

By Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly  | April 30, 2010; 1:58 PM ET
Categories:  Friday Lists, Movies, Pop Culture  | Tags:  Friday List, Movies, Pop Culture  
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Next: Jim Carrey’s boinging good time

Comments

This is where the prom from Footloose was held:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kitcase/3699327310/in/set-72157621102862200/

In the middle of a generic suburb, about 100 feet from an 8 lane freeway. Well, today it is. 30 years ago it was still country.

Posted by: wiredog | April 30, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

What about 10 Things I Hate About You. Who wouldn't want to go to a prom with Save Ferris playing as the band.

Posted by: DorkusMaximus1 | April 30, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes, yes. You're too cool for Twilight. We get it already.

That clip contains one of my favorite moments of the whole movie: the bit where Bella gestures to her friend about the cleavagey dress she's wearing-- the friend's reaction ("I know, right?") is spot on and quite funny.

Posted by: WDC2 | April 30, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Man, I hated the "Footloose" prom scene. Up until that point, the cheesy plot and Lori Singer's acting were bad enough, but when the way-fake overlaid confetti came during the prom, I was done done done.

How about the senior prom scene on the beach in "Just One of the Guys"? C'mon, it isn't every day that your (girl) date discovers you're not a boy but rather a girl dressed like a boy. ("You're a chick!")

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | April 30, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Good call TD, I totally forgot about that movie. Though maybe that's for the best...

Posted by: Liz Kelly | April 30, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

What? No mention of "Back to the Future"?

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | April 30, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion.

Fabulous film. Fabulous 80s prom scene, which I won't give away here.

Posted by: dadada | May 1, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but you can't make this list without mentioning Valley Girl---best prom moment ever!!!!

Posted by: guybrarian | May 2, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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