You Won't Remember Their Names
If they had to pick a movie to remake then Fame is a smart move. Since it is the story of talented kids going to a performing arts school the situations are timeless. The first version of Fame was in 1980 and it was full of talented youngsters who played realistic characters. Chances are you still recall Coco and Bruno if you saw the earlier version.
This time out the actors are talented musically but their characters as written are paper thin. The kids give it their all but are left "out there on their own." It is only when they sing or dance that they come alive and the movie has some energy.
The film starts with Audition Day for the New York School of the Performing Arts. A variety of students turns up for the chance to attend the school but only a small percentage is accepted. Among them are gifted pianist Denise (Naturi Naughton), singer Marco (Asher Book), dancer Alice (Kherington Payne), rapper Malik (Collins Pennie), and actress Jenny (Kay Panabaker).
All of these characters are stereotypical. Denise is locked into classical music by her parents, but she wants to sing. Marco is so laid back and nonchalant about his career that it drives him and his girlfriend Jenny apart. She is definitely driven. Malik's mother doesn't want him to waste his time on rap music, and Alice's parents want her to get in an exclusive dance troop and leave the School of Performing Arts behind. None of these situations grab the audience and when there is a crisis it is soon resolved.
If the students aren't fully developed character wise the teachers are even worse off. Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth and Charles S Dutton all make only brief appearances. They are flashes on the screen and never serve any real purpose.
The one outstanding musical number is Naughton's rendition of "Out Here On My Own" which is a song from the original movie. "Fame" is also sung over the closing credits. The rest of the music is forgettable, as are the dance numbers. Payne tries to inject some life into her big dance number but it never takes off.
The film is rated PG for profanity.
The struggle of young, talented people to make their way towards fame and fortune is generally mesmerizing but not in this case. There are no scenes that elicit emotions and no scenes that touch the heart. The first "Fame" scored points in both these areas.
This new cast sings and dances its heart out but to no avail. In the end you won't even remember their names, and that's a shame.
I scored "Fame" a Cara-less 4 out of 10.
Jackie K. Cooper
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