Reviewed by Matt Adcock
“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 is back retooled for a new generation and much to my wife’s disgust – without a legwarmer in sight… The basic plot is the same, take one group of variously talented dancers, singers and actors, track them over their four years at the New York City High School of Performing Arts and watch as their dreams either come true or crash and burn.
The film stands and falls on the personalities of the students we get to follow and that is where the 2009 version doesn’t match up to the 1980 original. First up we have cute but wet Jenny Garrison (Kay ‘Ellen Page lite’ Panabaker) who is struggling with being horribly repressed. She falls for Marco (Asher Book) who is a talented singer but doesn’t take life seriously. Then there’s Victor Taveras (Walter Perez) who is a wannabe producer who falls for supernova hot but aloof blonde dancing sensation Alice Ellerton (Kherington Payne). There’s also a token Hannah Montana graduate in Anna Maria Perez who plays ditzy Joy, and ‘rent a tortured soul’ Kevin Barrett (Paul McGill) who is odds on not to make it to his dream.
Finally there’s Denise Dupree (Naturi Naughton) who is the real deal, packing a voice that Beyoncé wouldn’t be ashamed to call her own. Denise is trapped by her parents who won’t support her dreams of singing and want her only to focus on classical piano forte. Oh almost forgot Malik Washburn (Collins Pennie) as the stereotypical angry black guy from the street…
It takes a while to get going however, and unfortunately for the viewer most of the characters and entirely forgettable (which is ironic given the ‘Remember my name’ lyrics to the title song…).
Tancharoen directs this ensemble piece with a detached feeling but in parts it looks excellent – the stand out scenes being Payne’s sizzling dance production to Sam Sparro’s Black and Gold and Naugnton’s two big songs.
Luton opening night I caught this at we were also treated to an impromptu pre-credit dance display by a local dance troop, looks like there’s still a lot of Fame hungry youngsters out there!
Darkmatters final rating of: ööööööö (7 – updated but not better than the original)
Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Action 6 (dance happens...)
Style 7 (nice gritty feel)
Babes 8 (Kherington Payne is off the scale sexy when she moves, not so much when she talks)
Comedy 5 (not funny enough really)
Horror 5 (fear this only if you have a fear of performing arts)
Spiritual Enlightenment 5 (life had both ups and downs)
"one more time... let's hear it for miss Payne"