Cast: Naturi Naughton, Kay Panabaker, Asher Book, Walter Perez, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Paul Iacono, Paul McGill, Collins Pennie, Kelsey Gramme, Kherington Payne, Kristy Flores, Debbie Allen
Writer: Allison Burnett
Director: Kevin Tancharoen
Release: 25 September 2009
MGM, 122 mins. [Extended], Rated PG
Another case of a deceptive trailer. See, the trailer was really well cut, showing off all of the flick's cool visuals against the backdrop of the really cool rendition of the world renowned "Fame" theme song. It looked cool, looked interesting, looked like it could really be something.
Silly, silly me.
Fame follows a dozen or so students through their four years at a Performing Arts school in New York City. Success, failure, angst, mis-communication, and betrayal ensues. Cheer up moment with a nice little song diddy. The End.
It wouldn't be remotely exaggerated as to say that I can't remember a single one of these characters' names, and what they want to do with their life. Well, there is that one kid who wants to become a famous Spielbergean movie director, and his plotline is by far one of the most predictable. Then there's that Zac Efron looked weirdo who wants to be a dancer, and when that doesn't follow through, he goes totally O.C. and resorts to drastic, dramatic measures. But that's about it. There's a singer girl, a drama girl, and another dancer girl. They all sorta look the same, what with the same clothing and hair styles, and lacking any sort of individualistic personality to separate them from the next person. In fact, there's two people I think I have mixed up but may not actually be: there's this kid who is all "Grrr, my mom sucks! Life - woe!" one minute, and happy go-lucky-dude with his passe the next. Not sure if it's the same character, but it might be.
Point is, the characters are completely not worth remembering, and if that's the case, than it's obvious that they're not well written, and that's there's no emotional connection to any of them or their storyline. And I even put on the Extended Cut! [There did appear to be plenty of Deleted Scenes, but aside from a few interesting ones, I didn't bother] I completely understand that the writers were forced to cover a wide range of characters through four years of high school in a two hour running time; a nearly impossible task. Well, this isn't how one does it. I give kudos, absolutely, to writer Burnett, as she definitely tries her best to make her characters rich and their dilemmas interesting, but it all feels very 'been there, done that.' And that unoriginality, along with the lack of connection to the characters, ruined the movie for me than anything else.
Direction-wise, Tancharoen goes documentary style, fully utilizing hand-held cinematography to a more annoying extent than anything Paul Greengrass can offer. The style didn't suck me into their lives; instead, it left me wondering if anyone was even operating the camera what with all the random zooms. Tancharoen also brings in slow motion in some dance sequences, and it's actually a well used effect, definitely during the graduation ceremony. Cool.
Dance sequences, few that there were, didn't really spice up the atmosphere, either. And that's regrettable, 'cuz I'm sure if there were some cool songs and choreography I'd probably be 'woah'd' enough to enjoy it a bit more. And as far as actors - eh. The most real performance, and this is coming from a scene that felt entirely contrived/forced, is when one of the teachers is coaxed by a student to get up in sing. It's a fun sequence that actually did accomplish sucking you in, but still felt rather fakey. There's just nothing noteworthy.
Bottom line, Fame is underwhelming. Style over substance, you could say. Perhaps it's just bad timing on the movie's part, with the movie's I've seen lately being quite good, this one just appeared lackluster. But none of them left me as detached and, frankly, a little bored as this musical did. My apologies to the writer, director, and producers. Good attempt, I'll give you that, but the script needed a little bit more ironing and the actors needed a little bit more coaching. I'm gonna pop me in some High School Musical 3 now. Or maybe give the 1980 Fame a chance?