Plot Summary: A group of hopeful high school freshmen get a chance to attend the New York Academy of Performing Arts to make their dreams of being a star come true.
Reason for the Rating: Thematic material including teen drinking, a sexual situation, and language.
I was among those who, in decades past, sang “I’m gonna live forever” at the top of my lungs and jumped for the stars while the “Fame” theme song blared in my living room. (Admit it, you did it too.) So I was intrigued to find a remake of the 1980s movie-turned-television-series come back to the big screen.
The new Fame movie follows a group of freshmen who get chosen to enter the prestigious New York Academy of Performing Arts. Some want to be dancers, some want to be singers, some want to be actors, but all want their chance at fame.
They’re guided through the dramatic world of the performing arts by sage teachers who are stern but well-meaning, played by veteran actors such as Kelsey Grammar, Megan Mullaly, and Bebe Neuwirth, and led by, of course, Debbie Allen, the original Fame teacher.
The young hopefuls are a talented group, including Marco (Asher Book) and Denise (Naturi Naughton), whose onscreen performances proved they should be real-life stars. But others have to experience the pain of the dramatic life, such as the realization that you might not be good enough and that others are out there to take advantage of you.
While the actors are talented and the music and dancing of Fame are excellent, the plot line, well, didn’t show up for rehearsals. The movie follows about eight different characters from freshmen year through graduation. That affords each character just snippets here and there throughout the year. And the teachers might as well have stayed home, so superficial and fleeting are our glances into their relationships with the students.
Sadly, although the characters are likable and we want to learn more about them, the viewer never gets to know any of the glut of characters well and so feels emotionally disconnected from the events. The overload of characters and events, mixed in with generous amounts of music and dance, makes this movie feel like a two-hour montage. So while there are definitely bright spots in this new, tamer version of Fame, this one isn’t likely to live forever.
There are fun spots in the Special Features on the DVD, though. You may want to skip the deleted scenes and "extended version" of the film (unless you just want to see extra dance numbers), but the "Fame National Talent Search" featurette is definitely worth watching. Also, for the aspiring dancers in your family, "The Dances of Fame" featurette is an interesting glimpse behind the scenes that's worthwhile.
If your family likes TV shows like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, or So You Think You Can Dance, you'll likely enjoy watching the numbers in this edition of Fame. But if you like a coherent, meaningful plot, this movie-length montage might leave you unsatisfied.
Let’s Talk About It
Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie.
• If you could be anything, what would you be?
• What is more important to you: Your close relationships or a chance to fulfill your life’s dreams?
• Have you ever had to make a choice between the two? Tell about it.
Note: All movie-related graphics in this column are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective movie studios.