Directed by: Kevin Tancharoen
Starring: Naturi Naughton, Collins Pennie, Kay Panabaker, Asher Book, Kherington Payne and Walter Perez
For Fame, we may blame Baz Lurhmann. Putting aside the string of cheesy 80s films that form this one’s heritage (that is Footloose, Flashdance and of course the original Fame), this remake’s reason for being can be put down to the eccentric Australian auteur and his delicious Spectacular Spectacular, Moulin Rouge!. Darling and completely reliable Wikipedia credits it for revitalising the ailing movie-musical genre and paving the way for gems such as Dreamgirls and Chicago as well as stones like Mamma Mia!, The Phantom of the Opera and now Fame. Despite this, Fame is not a movie-musical. It is more like a film with songs (that usually aren’t sung by the cast and sort of just represent the musical energy) stapled haphazardly to it. This is not good.
You see, films like this are flashy spectacles. Careful selection of music (which creates crossover revenue in the charts) and high intensity choreography jolt audiences and make them want to get up and imitate the on-screen action, no matter how poorly. This buzz lasts a while out of the cinema. So while many of its genre peers sparkle, Fame only fizzles mildly like a dying filament.
The film begins and the cast of bright eyed young hopefuls and their teachers is sort of thrown at you. There’s not much to really establish any of them, but it’s all you get. The film even takes place over four years and you’d still need a microscope to find anything that remotely resembles character development. The naïve, plain-faced young performers with skerricks of talent and dreams of celebrity are still naïve and plain-faced when they graduate.
For those four years, they go to the Performing Arts High School, a place of broken dreams and contrived teen shenanigans that are too tame for Dawson’s Creek and too unoriginal for Gossip Girl.
So that’s zero stars for the wannabe stars in both character and plot – what about the performing? Well… it’s pretty. Fame leaps, kicks, pliés, belts and laments with a lot of energy and no soul whatsoever. Like the script, like the performers, like the soundtrack selection, like the remade theme song, like the chests of the ballet boys and acting girls – it’s flat. When one of the students gets stung by the showbiz, when one’s overzealous parents behave strictly and when many of them succeed, you simply won’t care. As for the actors at the PAHS, it’s no wonder none of them get very far – they’ve got no talent and awful hair.
Why has Fame the brand survived all these years? A film, a TV show, a stage musical and another film – but all anyone actually remembers and cares about is Irene Cara’s theme. This trash has been rehashed for the YouTube generation, but I have confidence that even they won’t be dumb enough to swallow it. The total lack of pizzazz or any characters to care about leaves Fame pale in the face of something excellent, like Hairspray, or something relatively awful, like High School Musical. Seriously.
The hook goes “remember my name – fame!” and you will. The name ‘Fame’ will stay with you forever. You will, however, forget everything else this mess of stardom aspirations has to offer. It will all just melt together in your memory as one large cesspool of mediocrity. If you want teen dreams and positive morals that don’t suck, rent Hairspray.
You will love it if: …. you wont.
You will hate it if: … you will.
Fame is screening in wide release now.