Tuesday, January 26, 2010

FAME - More Like 'LAME'

FAME (dance musical)
Cast: Naturi Naughton, Kay Penabaker, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth, Charles S. Dutton and Debbie Allen
Director: Kevin Tancharoen
Screenplay: Allison Burnett, based on the film by Christopher Gore
Time: 102 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: Now, let's see what rhymes with FAME? Tame? Lame? Shame? At a time when we are inundated with musicals like 'Glee' and 'High School Musical', not to mention popular reality shows like American Idol, why would anyone wanna remake a PG-version of the 1980 Fame (which was rated R)?

This apparent 'reboot' is definitely too tame for today's youth who have been exposed to raunchier stuff on TV, like Adam Lambert, for example. To the adults, this will be lame, compared with the original. What a shame!

WHAT IS IT ABOUT? It's about a group of students who 'struggle' their way through four years at the New York City High School of Performing Arts.

The main characters include Jenny (Kay Panabaker), who has problems with her confidence and her relationship with fellow student Marco (Asher Book); angry rapper Malik (Collins Pennie), who forms a musical partnership with fellow student Victor (Walter Perez); classical pianist Denise (Naturi Naughton), who secretly longs to sing and dance against the wishes of her father; and Kevin (Paul McGill), who worries he'll never meet the high standards demanded by his dance teacher (Bebe Neuwirth).

HITS & MISSES: Plotwise, there are too many characters for director Tancharoen to handle and he seems at a loss over what to do with them. The better-known stars like Kelsey Grammer, Bebe Neuwirth and Charles S. Dutton are wasted in dull and uninspired roles while most of the younger cast manage to hold their own.

Making matters worse is that most of the characters the screenplay focuses on are walking clich├ęs and Tancharoen has no idea how to flesh them out of their script constraints. Although the film-makers keep the tone and colour like that of the original, there is no grit or depth to this film and it does not resemble the school of the original.

Musically, there are one or two exhilarating numbers - including a brilliantly edited impromptu jam session (incorporating rap, singing, dance with pulsating drums) that erupts in the school canteen. Subsequent musical numbers never quite top this one, though.

THE LOWDOWN: Fame? More like Lame.


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