Corden plays Barry Glickman in the musical (Picture: MELINDA SUE GORDON/NETFLIX)
Corden plays Barry Glickman, a faded theatre actor who travels to a small town to help a lesbian student who has been banned from attending prom with her girlfriend, and in turn boost his public image.
While the musical has received mixed reviews, Corden’s portrayal of Barry has been mauled by critics, who accuse the 42-year-old of ‘leaning into effeminate gay stereotypes’.
Vanity Fair’s review reads: ‘Corden, who is straight, is so bad in The Prom—somehow both appalling and terminally bland—that it had me thinking maybe the hardliners were right along. Forget the whole case-by-case thing: No more straight actors playing gay men until the sins of The Prom are properly atoned for.’
The review also accused the actor of ‘flitting and lisping around in the most uninspired of caricatures’.
AwardsWatch’s Erik Anderson tweeted: ‘The main, and huge, drawback is James Corden. His performance is gross and offensive, the worst gayface in a long, long time. It’s horrifically bad.’
IndieWire’s news editor Zack Sharf added: ‘“The Prom” shouts about tolerance but has James Corden leaning into effeminate gay stereotypes every chance he gets. Someone make it make sense?’
Variety’s Matt Donnelly agreed, tweeting: ‘Ryan Murphy delivers some of his most uncluttered, concise directing ever in #TheProm and then gives James Corden a bullhorn to lisp through. Horrifying stereotypes abound. “I’m as a gay as a bucket of wigs” among the gems. How? Why?’
The Prom also stars Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Keegan-Michael Key (Picture: MELINDA SUE GORDON/NETFLIX)
Digital Spy’s review called Corden’s performance ‘regressive and offensive, hitting every gay stereotype along the way’, while film writer Jesse Hassenger wrote: ‘THE PROM taught me a real lesson about tolerance. I used to think that it was permissible for a straight actor to play a gay character in some circumstances; now I’m willing to go hard-line against it if it means denying James Corden even one future role.’
Metro.co.uk’s review also singled out Corden’s performance among its faults, writing: ‘Corden’s Barry is a broad ‘Gay Best Friend’ stereotype, there to make catty remarks and give makeovers. He gets a subplot about reconciling with his parents, but too often this feels like another queer caricature played by a straight actor.’
Corden, who is married to Julia Carey, has appeared on the big screen in films including Ocean’s 8, Peter Rabbit and the critically-panned Cats adaptation.
However, not all his theatre forays have been critically mauled, as he won a Tony Award for his role in One Man, Two Guvnors, and was praised for his performance in the big screen adaptation of Into The Woods.
Metro.co.uk has contacted Corden’s rep for comment.
The Prom is available to stream on Netflix from December 11.