Fame(2009)

Fame’s Gonna Live Forever

 

Kevin Tancharoen’s long awaited adaptation of the 1980s classic opens in documentary style, cataloguing the first day of auditions for a prestigious New York school of performing arts. The sequence is reminiscent of one of the many reality television talent shows that we have become accustomed to in today’s generation of viewers. Here we are introduced to the many promising young actors, singers, dancers and musicians, of whose journey we will be following throughout the film.

The movie is split into sections, each covering a year at the firm but fair performing arts college, and concerning the trials, tribulations and triumphs of a select few of the chosen artists. Each character’s story is developed in little detail amongst these sections, but there is a great atmosphere within the scenes filmed during school hours that had the audience literally dancing in their seats in the theatre. The most exciting of these are, of course, the musical numbers which do not disappoint the high hopes of its cult fan base.

The film must indeed be credited for its fabulous song and dance performances, ranging from ensemble extravaganzas to moving solo pieces. However, it seemed the film served as a platform for up- and -coming faces, a virtual launch pad for a talented new generation of entertainers screaming the immortal: ‘remember my name’ to a captivated audience. The primary cast were unknown actors and performers and it was very obvious that the film will be a wonderful introduction into the business for these aspiring kids.

Tipped as the protagonist, if any, of the piece was Naturi Naughton who played ‘Denise Dupree’ a classically trained pianist and a kick arse vocalist.

The film chronicled the turbulence of life in the performing arts business and delivered a somewhat realistic impression of the harshness it entails, yet the original blockbuster had much more of a storyline centred around the characters.

It is a tricky issue here, as despite being sympathetic and likeable, the entourage consisted of certain stock characters that have popped up in movies of similar considerations. Angry youths and struggling stars trying to cope with life in the school are not unfamiliar to audiences in the wake of movies such as ‘Step Up’ and ‘Save the Last Dance’. Interestingly, (but not surprisingly), before venturing into feature directing, Tancharoen was a dancer in the chorus of ‘You Got Served’, which would explain his flair for choreographical brilliance, but exposes a nascent vulnerability in terms of cinematic experience.

Pleasing performances were given by big names such as Kelsey Grammer and Megan Mullally, who even delighted us with a musical number.

Fame (2009) was a valiant effort as an entire entity but lacked a lot of the lustre and depth of the original screenplay and stage show. It will be interesting to see if audiences will grow tired of recycled storylines, characters and musical conventions, but, at present, Fame does not disappoint its target audience: Pre-teens mourning the loss of the High School Musical saga. I don’t believe it will be in line to win an academy award any time soon, but I found Fame to be an enjoyable family film tapping into the wild success of the other dance movie genre trendsetters.

 

 

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