Some movies will change your life. “Fame” is not one of them. It’s not an ambitious movie. Instead of inspiring, “Fame” merely seeks to entertain. At times it even succeeds — the music and sequences are, if not well choreographed, at least interesting to watch.
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The musical, a remake of the 1980 Alan Parker-directed classic, is a far cry from the gritty original. While the original musical had characters questioning their religious affiliation, struggling with their sexual identity and entertaining thoughts of suicide, the new, watered-down, PG version just has characters sulking over their stern instructors and parents.
The film follows a select group of students through their four years at the prestigious New York City High School of Performing Arts, and reintroduces a familiar set of typecasts: a bratty would-be actress, a poet suffering from a heavy dose of teen angst and a wide-eyed, naïve songstress, to name a few.
To appease the preteen girl demographic, the film even includes a romance between the haughty, aspiring actress Jenny (relative newcomer Kay Panabaker) and the more laid-back singer Marco (relative newcomer Asher Book). The idea is that opposites attract. The acting, however, is wooden, and the banter between the two is tiresome.
The dialogue falls painfully flat throughout the film. There is no exchange of clever repartee or meaningful conversation. In the first few minutes of the film, a dance instructor responding to a hopeful country bumpkin from Iowa gives this sparkling gem of advice: “Don’t worry, you might be back in Iowa sooner than you think.” Witty, right?
Other, not-so memorable lines:
Boy: “I have talent.”
Principal: “And who on Earth told you that?”
Boy: “You did.”
The structure of the film is just as formulaic as its characters, and similarly rife with clichés. The urban dance genre heavily influences the film, and much of the musical consists of dance montages and close-ups of students artistically perspiring, with furrowed brows and looks of heavy concentration.
Fans of “Step Up” be warned, this isn’t a movie for you — it’s not seductive in any sense and it lacks a brooding Channing Tatum-like character. It lacks the humor and bubbliness of “High School Musical.” And unlike “America’s Got Talent” contestants, the movie lacks actors with raw, real talent.
The movie, basically, is lacking.
This is all unfortunate, because the premise, although contrived and redundant, seems promising enough to be at least somewhat entertaining. A group of kids from different walks of life, connected only through their aspirations of rising above the masses, attempt to fulfill their dreams of fame. The classic underdog story.
But after over an hour and a half of cliché piled on cliché, it’s apparent that the movie, unlike its tagline, will definitely not “live forever.” Although at times mildly amusing, the film is still utterly forgettable. Clearly, director Kevin Tancharoen hopes to appeal to a wide audience with his family-friendly musical. But by simultaneously trying to cater to the “High School Musical” crowd, the MTV audience and reality TV enthusiasts, his ambitions, like his movie, fall flat. By trying to appeal to everyone, the movie will end up appealing to no one.