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Fame (2009)

Dream It - Earn It - Live It

Starring:

Asher Book

Bebe Neuwirth

Charles S. Dutton

Cody Longo

Debbie Allen

Kay Panabaker

Kelsey Grammer

Kherington Payne

Megan Mullaly

Naturi Naughton

Directed by:

Kevin Tancharoen

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 107 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG

Country: United States

Maybe I’m remembering my youth with foggy, nostalgia-tinted glasses, but oh how I loved the original Fame. I even had the soundtrack on cassette tape, which I played until it was all worn out on my super cool Walkman. But dang it, I remember there were characters in there with names I can still remember—and a plot … well, several of them, really … that I actually cared about (Doris? Coco? Where are you?). Why oh why must my childhood be subjected to remakes?

In this reboot, a bunch of young creative types are all strutting their talented stuff at the New York City High School of Performing Arts. Following through all four years of their high school career, these actors, singers, dancers, and musicians do some musical numbers and try and figure out their lives, loves, friendships, and futures. Even the musical numbers aren’t that good, though,

There’s no denying that the kids in this film are talented in their respective disciplines—Naturi Naughton as conflicted singer/pianist Denise is especially good, and offers one of the only real nods to the original, a re-sing of “Out Here On My Own,” which was a shining moment for Irene Cara back in the day. Talented kids, though, still need a script and a plot to work with, and in a movie whose format divvies up the 90 or so minutes of action (action already cut short by musical numbers, mind you) into four sections, one for each year of high school, there just isn’t any type of real story or character development. Then there are the instructors—a talented bunch themselves, boasting the likes of Megan Mullaly, Bebe Neuwirth, Kelsey Grammer, and original Fame mentor Debbie Allen—who all go virtually unused. I mean, yes, the focus is supposed to be the young generation, but these are actors with a myriad of artistic experience whose tiny roles could have been played by just about anyone. Add to all that the fact that there are SO MANY characters, almost none of whom are memorable in any way (except by their stereotype names: “Shy Girl,” “Snotty Dancer Girl,” “Angry Black Guy,” “Gay Dancer Guy”), and all we’ve got is a YouTube-ish, shallow bit of boring fluff. Whereas the first Fame had a gritty New York reality to it, this pointless re-do is nothing more than a series of glitzy production numbers that don’t even live up to the standard of High School Musical. I don’t care what the song says, this Fame is not going to live forever—I’m not even sure it should make it to a DVD release.

It's Got: Some talented kids, Bebe Neuwirth dancing, wasted potential

It Needs: Better story and dialogue, some semblance of character development, better music in its musical

Alternatives:

Fame (1980), Grease, High School Musical

Summary

There’s just no reason to recommend this plot-free, bland, choppy musical that may one day be the most embarrassing listing on some of its cast’s resumes.

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