Thursday, October 8, 2009

FAME (2009)

Written by Allison Burnett

Directed by Kevin Tancharoen

Where & When: Emagine Cinemas, Canton, MI, October 6, 2009 4:30PM

Debbie Allen has come full circle. She started off in a supporting role as a dance instructor in the original film, "Fame" (1980), then she advanced to a starring role in the television series and now she is back in a supporting role, this time as the school principal in this current remake of the film. She would have been better off leaving that circle incomplete. I remember going to see "Fame" as a teenager, living a somewhat sheltered existence in the suburbs and I was really impressed. These kids were around my age, doing and saying things I could never have imagined. They were living lives that were edgy, gritty and exciting and I loved it. It made me realize that I needed to leave suburbia behind and get to the big city for some real living.

The 2009 re-imaging of "Fame" is an unnecessary, watered down, sugar-coated, politically correct version of the original film. Who wants to see that? I know I didn't and apparently very few others did as well. Why did the filmmakers feel that it was it necessary to remove the edge and real human beings to make this accessible for today's audiences? Adding hip-hop, slick choreography and modern camera moves has not improved this new version or made it relevant.

Like the original, this film follows a select group of students from the New York High School of Performing Arts from auditions to graduation. This is the only similarity that the two films share. All of the kids are too polished, pretty and perfect to be believable as students. Hardly anyone is seen having to really struggle, let alone sweat, to get through each school year. None of the students are particularly interesting or realistic. One student, Denise ( Naturi Naughton), an African-American, is training to become a classical pianist like her parents wanted but what she secretly wants to be is a hip-hop singer which her father forbids her to do or he will pull her out of the school. I might have bought this and it would have been more interesting if this character was Caucasian but as done in this film, it was just ridiculous.

The film is also littered with cameos from well known television actors, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth and Charles S. Dutton as instructors. What a waste of their time. I still play the soundtrack from "Fame" from time to time and this version wisely used two of the strongest songs, "Fame" and "Out Here On My Own" but the original songs are awful and forgettable. If you are a fan of the original film, this version is an insult. After sitting through another disastrous remake, I just want to scream at Hollywood: "For God's sakes---- STOP ALREADY!!". There is absolutely no need to remake or re-imagine a perfectly good film.