Fame Film Review
Based on the 1980s movie and television series, the 2009 film Fame is both a blast from the past and a refreshing look at the present high school student experience. I must say I enjoyed the original more but this film is good as well. It will especially be enjoyed by the age appropriate crowds. Teens ages12-19 will probably be most inclined to like this film.
The film begins with auditions occurring at PA - the Performing Arts High School. The setting is Manhattan and the film depicts a myriad of anxious and excited students on audition day. Some arrive by taxi. Some arrive by subway from their respective homes.
Among the students is a character played by Naturi Naughton (formerly starring in Notorius). She plays the piano while other students might act, sing or play another instrument. She actually has a gift for singing but keeps it under wraps for now as her father supported her attending the PA school only if it was to be trained in classical piano.
Another student struggles with pent up anger as his eight year old sister had been killed. He throws his energy into his own acting and rapping performances. One thing he won't stand to be called is a coward and he is often challenged to do his best by his teacher played by Charles S. Dutton.
The film moves through time easily, as in the two hours we get to witness the growth of these students from the day of their auditions, their acceptances to PA, their first day of school to their senior year and graduation. On the first day of school, the principal played by Debbie Allen gives the class a stern talking to. She lets them know that if they are not prepared to work hard, they can leave and new students would be happy for the opportunity to take their places! Debbie Allen is the only person who was in all three productions (the original film, the television series and this film). She reprises her involvement now as school principal but in the past television production, she had a starring role as a dance teacher. Back then, her most popular line to remind students that success and fame take hard work was,
"Here is where you start paying, in sweat."
In the 2009 film, some of the characters look genuinely afraid as the principal gives her speech to the auditorium full of students. Others smile confidently as if they are up for the challenge. Later, we see that the most confident ones do indeed find success.
Much occurs before senior year and the audience is really taken on a journey with the students in the film.
One student drops out of school because she is able to find some professional work before graduation. She is sad and nostalgic about it and later on, she still attends the graduation ceremony to support her graduating friends.
Two other students have a budding romance with some stumbles along the way.
Another student hits a crisis as he becomes so distraught after being told by a teacher that by senior year, he has not sufficiently developed as a student and does not have the natural talent to go far as a professional dancer.
Naturi's character, Denise can hide her gift but for so long and eventually starts singing so that everyone can hear!
"Oh baby look at me and tell me what you see. You ain't seen the best of me yet. Give me time, I'll make you forget the rest."....
"Fame. I'm gonna live forever. I'm gonna learn how to fly- high"....
"I'm gonna make it to heaven. Light up the sky like a flame. Fame.".....
"Baby, remember me name, remember, remember".....
To learn more about the patchwork of individual stories. You've got to catch this film. You'll enjoy the singing and dancing of this musical most of all.
I rate it 3/5 stars ***
Starring Kay Panabaker as Jenny Garrison, Naturi Naughton as Denise Dupree, Kherington Payne as Alice Ellerton, Megan Mullally, Debbie Allen, Asher Book, Charles S. Dutton, Kelsey Grammer, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Collins Pennie and more.