Writer: Lai Swee WeiWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects:
NACinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“Fame”, “Rent”, “Step Up”
It's been almost three decades since the 1980 original film "Fame", where it successfully sparked TV series, musicals and even a reality show. The "Fame" brand's appeal has always been about watching young aspiring talents (singing, acting, dancing, artists) pursuing their goals relentlessly to be good at what they're doing and someday make it big. Introducing an updated version of the film, it tries to stir up a new generation while offering a mild reboot to anyone old enough to remember it.
Following the students of the New York Academy of Performing Arts, the stories of each individual unfortunately lacked the "UMPHH" and while their teachers (played by Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth and Charles S. Dutton) were caring, they sadly didn't have enough screen time to make an impact.
It was an unwise move from first time director Kevin Tancharoen to have so many main characters involved in the story, causing insufficient amount of time for better character development. There is so much going on that as time passes by fast through the four years ("Freshman Year", "Sophomore Year", "Junior Year", and "Senior Year"), you don't see how the students' problems were faced and how they were solved. Instead you see them upset at one point, then eventually all smiles and soon it was time for graduation. Although the basic ravenous hunger for success and the occasional disappointment was there, the outcome would've been better if they had reduced the number of leads. Frankly, their names aren't even memorable.
The screenplay consists of the common disapproving parents, romantic relationship roadblocks, naïve girl lured in by horny playboy, and etcetera. Perhaps, one girl made an impact which was Denise (Naturi Naughton), a fantastic singer whom her parents insist on her sticking to classical piano. Meanwhile, Jenny (Kay Panabaker) is a timid and wooden character who this reviewer finds having no talent whatsoever. One wonders how she managed to get herself shortlisted in this prestigious academy.
Despite a weak plot, it was nonetheless entertaining to see how talented these kids are and it gets you feeling rhythmic. The dance choreography and execution was great throughout and the singing was amazing, especially from actress Naturi Naughton, who oddly looks like a young Jennifer Hudson. However, the last big performance from the whole academy seems to fall short of expectation as it didn't feel as there was unison, instead disorganised and incohesive. Perhaps, the best scene was the completely unrealistic jam session at the cafeteria on the first day of Freshman Year, involving tap dancers, rappers, drummers, violinist, guitarists, singers, and so much more.
This remake might not outdo the original, but it'll sure make you miss it.Cinema Online, 21 January 2010