Fame (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner25/09/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 107 mins

Enjoyable drama with likeable characters and some impressively directed musical numbers, but the film's decision to focus on too many characters means that it spreads itself too thin and lacks emotional depth as a result.

What's it all about?
Directed by choreographer Kevin Tancharoen (making his feature debut), Fame is a 2009 reinvention of Alan Parker's series-spawning 1980 hit. The plot follows a group of around ten talented actors, singers, dancers and musicians as they navigate their way through four years at the New York City High School of Performing Arts.

The main characters include: actress Jenny (Kay Pannabaker), who struggles with both her confidence and her tentative relationship with impossibly laid back fellow student Marco (Asher Book); rapper Malik (Collins Pennie), whose anger issues gradually subside after he forms a musical partnership with fellow student Victor (Walter Perez); classical pianist Denise (Naturi Naughton), who secretly longs to sing and dance, against the wishes of her super-strict father; and dancer Kevin (Paul McGill), who worries he'll never meet the high standards demanded by his dance teacher (Bebe Neuwirth).

The Good
Though the film lacks the iconic dancing-on-car-roofs scene from the original movie, Tancharoen makes up for it with a brilliantly edited impromptu jam session (incorporating rap, singing, dance, drums and various other instruments) that erupts in the school canteen. Subsequent musical numbers (largely during the end-of-year show) never quite top this moment, but that scene alone is reason enough to see the film.

The fresh-faced cast are extremely appealing, particularly Pannabaker, Pennie and Naughton, though the film's decision to spread its focus between several other characters means that none of the stories are accorded much in the way of emotional depth and the film relies a little too heavily on the usual cliches. That said, the film does deliver a commendable message about the importance of talent and hard work as opposed to instant, Pop Idol-style celebrity.

The Bad
The film could have used a little more humour and some catchier songs, but its biggest crime is putting Kelsey Grammer and Bebe Neuwirth (aka Frasier and Lilith Crane) in the same film and not even giving them any scenes together.

Worth seeing?
Fame is no Bandslam, but it's still an entertaining drama with a commendable message and the likeable performances just about compensate for the heavily cliched script.

Film Trailer

Fame (PG)
Fame has been reviewed by 2 users
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Content updated: 20/07/2018 17:34

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