Fame was a film in the ’80s that was made into a TV Show that has been made back into a movie. What’s really amazing about this “update” is it completely and utterly lacks everything that made the original interesting.
First and foremost this film is lacking two very important things that are critical to any good film. First is any semblance of plot. The second is fleshed out characters. There are too many characters and neither their character nor arcs are given any amount of time to full develop. It takes at least 20 minutes to learn any of the characters names and even when you do you soon forget. Even worse, the teachers are given no character whatsoever; they serve only one purpose, to be teachers. For me, one of the great things about the original was that both students and teachers were fully developed and seeing that void here was really annoying. Especially since some good actors such as Charles Dutton and Kesley Grammer were wasted in the roles.
And for those of you who are thinking, “Well, I don’t’ really care about the characters or plot as long as there’s lots of good music and dancing,” you’ll be even more disappointed, as there are very few song and dance numbers and none of them are memorable. Sure, some of these kids are probably really talented; too bad the filmmakers never really give them their time to shine.
The film is cut up into four years of school. Had this been a TV show and each school year a season, then some of these characters and stories might have been given the time to grow into something interesting. However, as the film stands it feels like a two hour highlight reel of the entire series.
If feels like there is some story hiding in there somewhere, but you’ll just get frustrated trying to find it. There is one scene where one girl tells her boyfriend that she got a job in a prestigious dance troupe. Gee, wouldn’t it have been interesting to maybe see her audition, or even know that she was going to be trying out? The filmmakers didn’t think so. They thought it would be more interesting to watch the couple talk for ten minutes and break up instead. Like most choices made in this film, they made the wrong one here.
Lastly, this is the “Extended Dance Edition” with fifteen minutes of “thrilling dance footage” not seen in theaters. Well, there couldn’t have been more than thirty minutes total of dancing in this version, and none of it was “thrilling.”
Fame is presented in 2:40.1 and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Dolby Digital surround sound. This is actually a very well shot and very pretty, too bad there is nothing going on in the film.
Deleted Scenes: (18 min.) These are all very weak, however on par with the scenes that stayed in the film. Sadly, some of these scenes actually would have given the film a little more plot, however not much.
“Fame” Music Video: (3 min.) Watching this gives you the basic idea of the film condensed down to three minutes. So I have to say this is the best part of the DVD. Oh, and the song is sung by kids from the cast.
Remember My Name Character Profiles: (17 min.) The kids in the film get to tell a little bit about themselves and the characters they play. You learn more about the characters here then you do in the actual film.
Fame National Talent Search Finalists Featurette: (6 min.) You get to see the finalists of the talent search and the full performance of the winner. Meh.
The Dances of Fame: Featurette: (7 min.) A generic featurette about the dancing in the film.
My roommate, who loves dancing and the original film and TV show, put it best: “This film hurts my heart.” There is nothing worthwhile in this entire film. No characters, no story, no memorable music or dancing. And with out those things Fame is nothing. Please do yourself a favor and avoid this film at all costs.
MGM presents Fame: Extended Dance Edition. Written by Allison Burnett. Directed by Kevin Tancharoen. Starring Charles Dutton, Kelsey Grammer and Bebe Neuwirth. Running time: theatrical cut: 107 minutes. Extended cut: 123 minutes. Rated PG. Released on DVD: January 12, 2010. Available at Amazon.com
Mike Noyes received his Masters Degree in Film from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. A few of his short films can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/user/mikebnoyes. He recently published his first novel which you can buy here: https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Days-Years-Mike-Noyes-ebook/dp/B07D48NT6B/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528774538&sr=8-1&keywords=seven+days+seven+years