Rated PG; Directed by Kevin Tancharoen; Starring Kay Panabaker, Asher Book, Naturi Naughton, Walter Perez, Collins Pennie, Charles S. Dutton, Kelsey Grammer, Bebe Neuwirth, Megan Mullally
The 1980 film, Fame, with its story of students wanting to find fame and “live forever” proved popular enough to lead to a successful TV series. Watching talented teens perform is always a good idea in movies and TV. Even if the characters are sketchy, the song numbers awkward, and plot developments minimal, there is still enough entertainment value. The newest version of Fame to hit the theatres gives us the usual variety of kids who learn life lessons while singing, dancing, and emoting while attending the High School of Performing Arts.
We have the uptight, shy girl, the poor city rapper, the quirky future filmmaker, the classical pianist who doesn’t find joy in her music, and a multitude of other students. All of them hope to make it big, but they have to get through the four years of high school. Unfortunately, this film version loses focus as there are too many students to follow through their trials and tribulations.
Some of the performers stand out and a few of the musical numbers are entertaining, but it all seems rather tame and by the numbers. Debbie Allen, Charles S. Dutton, Kelsey Grammer, Bebe Neuwirth, and Megan Mullally also have their moments as faculty at the high school. Yet it feels muddled. We won’t talk about the mess of a closing number (students as Polynesian dancers?).
Fame offers enough singing and dancing to get us through the slower segments, but it isn’t going to be a movie that will live forever in our memories. It is just another one of the usual singing, dancing, acting, pretty teens kind of movie.