The original Fame of 1980 won 2 Academy Awards, 1 BAFTA Award, and was nominated for quite a few more. Riding on that success, it was later recreated as a television show and a smash hit musical. It was just a matter if time before someone in Hollywood decided we needed another go around. This adaptation has a few of the same elements, but it just isn’t quite the same.
Fame follows a group of dancers, singers, actors and other artists as they make their way through the New York City High School of Performing Arts. This performing powerhouse accepts kids from all walks of life and gives them a chance to live their dream with hopes of achieving real lasting fame — the kind that comes from hard work and determination. As they strive for their turn in the spotlight, they find out who has the talent and discipline to succeed.
We get a large group of characters to follow, which gives the viewers more opportunities to connect, but it is a down fall as well. The story and character development just isn’t there this time around. Only a few of them are given back-stories, and fewer still are shown in meaningful scenes outside the school. The conflicts are all pretty superficial. There were a couple of stand out performances given; Collins Pennie did a good job as Malik, an angry kid with a hard life trying to move up and out of his situation, and Naturi Naughton sings “Out Here on My Own” beautifully. Unfortunately, they didn’t have to try too hard to stand out. Across the board the “student” acting was just up to par, with much better and welcome intervals from the “teachers” (Kelsey Grammer, Bebe Neuwirth, Charles S. Dutton, and Megan Mullally).
The most exciting scenes usually revolved around the dancers when they were doing nothing but dancing. It’s not a huge surprise, considering director Kevin Tancharoen has previously done choreography, TV dance shows, and had a small part in You Got Served. The strongest dancer in Fame by far was Kherington Payne, who played Alice, a bored rich girl. Payne’s original claim to fame was being one of the top 6 dancers of season 4 of So You Think You Can Dance, before being voted out. Blessedly we were subjected to only a few of what will be her first lines in her acting career. Let’s just say she shouldn’t quit her day job.
While this remake of Fame is obviously a contemporary piece and geared toward a preteen/teenage audience, some of the content is questionable. It may be PG, but don’t let that fool you. There are two party scenes in the film, both of which involve teen drinking. Another scene portrays a young acting student getting drunk to help a fellow student finish his directorial homework, a girl invites her boyfriend over to her to her parent-less house, a couple of slightly more mature dance performances, and another chick considers being taken advantage of to get an acting job. If your kids love the High School Musical trilogy and you’re thinking Fame might be a new favorite for them, just be sure to go see it together. While the tag line of “Dream It — Earn It — Live It” does come across and is a good lesson for young people, there are those aforementioned hot spots that may be a little too grown up for your 12 year old.
The throw-backs to the original 1980’s Fame are sprinkled throughout, but the magic just simply isn’t there. There are good life lessons, cute new up and coming actors, and it’s nice to see another movie promoting performing arts that’s geared toward young people, but it would be nice if it could have shone as bright as the lights on it’s stage. Overall it just boils down to another average teen flick.
I give Fame a 3 ‘Remember My Names ‘out of 5.
by Rachael Edwards