Movie Review: Fame
Who Doesn’t Love Tap Dancing Teens?
I went into the screening of Fame expecting the worst; scores of young performers breaking out into song and dance in a too-good-to-be-true fictional high school. I had already started planning the spin-off movie, Lame, about the sister school of NYC High School of Performing Arts (nicknamed PA). It would be located in New Jersey and that’s where all the kids who didn’t get into PA would go. And somehow I’d think of a way to tie in Twilight, maybe Bella would sing the theme song about living forever and learning how to fly…which actually are her two main goals in life, now that I think about it.
My point is to show just how prepared I was to not like newcomer Kevin Tancharoen’s re-make. I always forget what a sucker I am for a good tap routine and flashy cafeteria dance numbers. My inner theatre nerd was happily clapping her hands at the awesome choreography as I settled in and enjoyed every second of the two hours I spent in that dark theater (which is saying something since a dance troupe of two dozen whistling tweens performed prior to the film…their lust for stardom was blinding). Somehow Fame managed to portray the passion and love of performing arts, without seeming too contrived. Sure it might be an idealistic portrayal at times, but I bought it. I suppose it helps that most of the cast are young and struggling and idealistic themselves.
What really help the film were the casting choices for the faculty of PA. Debbie Allen, who appeared in the TV series, is back as the tough but fair Principal. Charles S. Dutton, Kelsey Grammer (Dr. Fraiser Crane)and Bebe Neuwirth (Lillith from Cheers) were all cast as PA instructors and were fabulous. But it was Megan Mullally (Karen Walker from Will & Grace) who stole the show as the voice teacher. Her impeccable comedic timing and delivery made a potentially stereotypical character charming and endearing. Her performance of the Rodgers & Hart standard “You Took Advantage of Me” was what brought down the house at my screening. How refreshing to see several phenomenal over forty female performers cast in a major studio film.
Spanning four years, like the original, Fame struggled with the story arch and sheer amounts of action it had to show, leaving me feeling like the story could have been tighter and some of the on-screen time better utilized. While some of the plot points might be a tad predictable and familiar territory for the seasoned teen-movie aficionado, Fame never took itself too seriously. Even when it had it’s mandatory moments of melodrama and “what, are you stupid?! Don’t’ do that!” scenes, Fame got away with it because a few minutes later it had me laughing or awed by the fancy footwork. Because really, throw a back-lit singer on stage and a passionate song and dance, and you got me. It doesn’t take much to keep me entertained, as long as it’s done well, and Fame was certainly right on the money.
So put your legwarmers on and go out to see this re-make with your best friends, you won’t be disappointed.
Frothygirlz Rating: 8/10