Friday, September 25, 2009



I had watched the original Fame movie when I was a kid, enough to know the theme song sung by Irene Cara, but little else. Fast forward to today, I'm pretty sure I still enjoyed the reworked theme song, but the film unfortunately is a disaster, with predictable storylines, cardboard characters, and while I'm quite OK that it may have tried to be more documentary like in its presentation, it just fell short on almost all accounts, save for some of the set musical pieces.

Despite its hip trailer aimed specifically at its demographic audience, the film just didn't work out, and tried too hard to resemble plenty of dance movies already out there, except that it did a lot more worse by injecting too many characters having everyone bear the brunt of the burden in carrying the film through its runtime, through supporting role appearances at best. Having cast a relative bunch of good looking unknowns also helped in providing the fresh-facedness required, but it's akin to watching a bad episode of American Idol, except that you don't get to choose who stays and who goes.

Granted it wanted to be more "School like" encompassing all the various subjects taught from dance to acting, in quite an elitist fashion in getting mere hundreds amongst thousands of applicants, and if quality control was so stringent, it provided critical flaws to the plausibility of the show. For one, these characters are talented folks, and it's just no good treating talented folks like toddlers in school, picking on every little thing they do wrong in hoping to polish those rough diamonds. Also, the screening of candidates, while provided some Audition hilarity, was mostly based on the whims of the various instructors, hence the kind of petty issues they dredge up for themselves, like the angry actor who thought the stage was his calling, throwing tantrums and in need for some serious counselling.

But the most critical flaw of them all, for a movie in its genre, is whence the buildup and character development? We're suppose to believe that after their graduation they're all "ready to make it" in the big, bad, unforgiving world of fine art performance. Unfortunately the output's pretty much the same as the input, save for a few characters who turned into perfect gems overnight, with nary any focus on their transformation. The best just coasted through school, while the worst (amongst the best) turned in much better performances through the sprinkle of magic dust or through the rubbing of shoulders. There must be something in the diet served by the school's canteen as well it seems.

Fame fell short and became plain, formula, predictable, and ultimately boring. The screenplay reeked laziness - who needs yet another teenage movie where it tells you that even the best amongst us suffer from trouble dished out by disapproving parents, romantic relationship roadblocks, yet another naive girl becoming bait for hot looking predatory guys, wanting to fulfill a deep desire and break out of routine, discrimination, trust and integrity. The list just goes on, no thanks to individual cardboard characters being assigned some thematic homework, and turning in the results in little episodes and scenes, without allowing the audience to build any emotional connection, or to even root for the underdogs.

It's ambitious too in its setting, taking on the entire school journey of these select group of youngsters, albeit without a real story, nor gelling them together in one coherent way. Technically, director Kevin Tancharoen (who had so far done music videos) and cinematographer Scott Kevan had opted for the shaky cam technique, for what reasons I do not fathom, and came off quite irritatingly. Someone should start preaching the virtues of mounting the camera of a tripod, versus making it a lame excuse to want to do it documentary style, or to allow for fluid motion in capturing the performances, not!

The only saving grace here, are some of the performances, be it group dance ensembles, or solo acts. I had preferred the former a lot more for their energy and choreography, and amongst all the disciplines, I personally enjoyed the dances a lot more, compared to the others like acting, or even singing, due to the rather lacklustre tunes and mediocre lyrics.

This is one film that I'd rather not remember its name, and could be called anything else other than a remake of Fame.

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