In the Musical Movie, “The PROM”, James Corden plays a character named Barry Glickman. He is cast as a middle-aged gay male who is a dying thespian on Broadway. His character, despite the looks of it in the beginning, is very complex and important to the story. His first words in the movie make the audience immediately despise his character because of his narcissistic manner. He says, “…there is no difference in the president of the United States and a celebrity. We both have power. The power to change the world (The Prom).” A side plot of the movie is how these Broadway celebrities try to become good. Barry becomes quite lovable as the movie progresses because we get to see his personal struggles and how he helps Emma overcome her struggles and become one of her best friends.
Barry finds out about Emma and the injustice that is taking place in Indiana. She is not allowed to go to her Prom because of her sexual orientation. Barry and his thespian friends want to boost their PR, but their intentions become less and less about boosting their public image once they get to Indiana and meet Emma. The reason Barry is such an important character in this story is because of his sexual orientation as well. Corden chooses to play into stereotypes for his role of Barry Glickman. Some may consider this to be an inappropriate decision by Corden because it could be more empowering to gays if he plays the character in a more specific and moving way. However, as we discussed in class, he could have decided to play into stereotypes because gay men of that age often dressed and acted as he portrayed in the movie. It was their way of connecting with their community and finding shelter from the harsh, judgmental people in the world.
The musical producers had Barry’s character reflect through his songs as well. Barry sings a very narcissistic song at the start of the movie as well, and his songs become more and more heartfelt as he becomes a better person and starts to break down his own personal barriers. The best song of Barry Glickman is the song in Act 2 where he is singing about what he should have done when he was younger at the Prom. He is realizing his mistakes and owning them and owning himself, showing that he has fully accepted himself as a gay man and now as a good person instead of a dramatic narcissist.
James Corden’s Barry brought me a lot of joy in the performance towards the end. He accepted himself and gained self-confidence, he reconnected with his mom, and he admitted his flaws and helped Emma have the experiences as a gay teen that he never got to experience himself. A defining moment for Barry at the end of the movie was when he initiated the act of putting in a credit card to pay for a new Prom for Emma despite him being bankrupt. This truly turned his character around in the eyes of the audience. You can nitpick all the flaws that Corden presents and all the stereotypes that Corden plays into, but the truth is that his character is important in this movie because he helps empower Emma and give her the experiences she deserves, and he helps the audience understand the injustices that happen towards the LGBTQI+ Community.
I believe that this movie has flaws in its character presentations only if you do not view the movie as a movie for straight people. I believe this movie was meant for straight people to interact with because of how it leans into stereotypes with the characters, especially Barry, Emma, and the popular girls. I think the stereotypes seen are intentional in order to make the characters more understandable and more interactive.