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Reviewed on 2009-09-26
Received[2]  out of 4 stars
GenreComedy / Drama / Family / Musical / Romance
Two Reviews below, first by Keith Cohen and then by Jolene Mendez.

A modern reimagining of the original 1980 Academy Award-winning musical follows a melting pot of 10 talented students as they matriculate through the prestigious Performing Arts Academy in Manhattan.

Bookended by audition and graduation day, the movie is divided into four sections representing freshman, sophomore, junior and senior year.

The audience develops no attachment or involvement with the stereotyped characters. The random and unconnected scenes lack narrative cohesion. The filmmakers spread themselves too thin covering way too many gifted people in different disciplines.

The movie is geared to fans of MTV videos with short attention spans. The smattering of disjointed moments comes across as impromptu jam sessions with lots of noise and gyrating bodies. The acting is atrocious and amateurish from a cast of unknown, fresh faces.

The movie is salvaged by a few well-choreographed dance numbers and some signature songs. The award-winning title song is played over the end credits. The only other holdover song (also nominated for an Oscar), “Out Here on My Own,” is performed in the middle of the movie by a classically trained female pianist who turns into a hip-hop artist.

Emmy-winning sitcom stars Kelsey Grammer (“Frasier”), Megan Mullaly (“Will & Grace”) and Bebe Neuwirth (“Frasier” and “Cheers”) are underutilized teaching music, singing and dancing. Debbie Allen, who played Lydia Grant in the original movie and starred in the television series that ran for five years on NBC, makes two brief appearances as the school principal. Charles S. Dutton (“The Express” and “American Violet”) adds the most emotional heft as the drama teacher.

The lack of character development, individual stories that go nowhere and haphazard editing make this a bland experience to sit through. Street scenes of New York City are thrown into the chaotic mix for segues away from the claustrophobic classrooms.

This boring reboot tarnishes the rich heritage of the original movie, popular TV series and stage musical that ran nationally and off-Broadway for nearly 20 years. The best advice is to avoid this misfire and rent the original version featuring Irene Cara.

Review By:
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"


Review Below By:
Jolene Mendez of

2 out of 4 Stars

“Fame” is a reinvention of the original 1980 hit film, eventually turned into a TV version premiering in 1981. “Fame” follows the life of a talented group of young adults as they train for their performing careers at the New York City High School of Performing Arts, also known as PA. This group will be pushed to show their talent whether it be dancing, singing, playing instruments or acting. The AM hours at the school focuses on their performances and perfecting it, while the afternoon will focus fully on academics. All the students need to maintain an average grade to continue with the program.

As we go from freshmen year to senior year we see all the stars begin to rise. Not surprisingly most of the entertainers cross over from acting to musicians and from singers to dancing. They all seem multi faceted. Joy (Anna Maria Perez de Tagle) is one of our actors who seem to have the chops, where Jenny (Kay Panabaker) is still trying to tune her talent. Marco (Asher Brook) proves to know his singing is superb and is in tune with his skills, and Denise (Naturi Naughton) is learning her talent is larger than she even knows. As we follow these students in their road to FAME we also watch the turmoil any teen experiences. Love, failure, work and the stress it can all cause. As we get close to the finish line who will come out on top and have you remembering their name?

Answer is sadly none of them. “Fame” was not as spectacular as I expected. The film had high energy and good entertainers, but overall it was a letdown. The most thrilling performances came from the dancers, as they had excellent choreography. The acting was average; they should have stuck more to the performing arts and less on the scripted scenes. The standout star for me was Kherington Payne as Alice, the former ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ competitor, proving not only to be a marvelous dancer, but a new star on the rise. “Fame” will be an enjoyable showcasing for the young adults, but former fans of the TV series or movie may find it second-rate.

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