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Movie Review

Fame

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic material including teen drinking, a sexual situation and language.

Reviewed by: Nory Garcia
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Genre:
Musical, Dance, Teen, Drama, Remake
Length:
1 hr. 47 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
September 25, 2009 (wide—3,000 theaters)
DVD: January 12, 2010
Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

ANXIETY, worry and fear—What does the Bible say? Answer

Music in the Bible

Dancing in the Bible

SUICIDE—What does the Bible say? Answer

If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer

Teen Qs™—Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens! Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
Featuring: Naturi Naughton, Kay Panabaker, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth, Charles S. Dutton, Kherington Payne, Debbie Allen, Walter Perez, Paul McGill, Paul Iacono, Asher Book, Collins Pennie, Johanna Braddy, Earl Carroll, Colleen Craig, Bree Elise, Tiffany Espensen, Kristy Flores, Ashley Galvan, Malerie Grady, Wyatt Gray, Howard Gutman, Michael Hyatt, Tim Jo, Ilisa Juried, Dominique Kelley, Cody Longo, Stephanie Mace, Peter Mackenzie, Robert Miles, Eli Myers, Paul Peglar, Michael Eric Reid, Ryan Surratt, Gavin Turek, Scott J. Wood, Don Abernathy, Lisette Alvarez, Austin Auger, Rey Barcena, Amelia Brantley, Kevin Cannon, Patrick Censoplano, Charlene deGuzman, Deanne Destler, Dale Godboldo, Ashley Klein, Kasha Kropinski, Luoc Lee, Courtney Long, Mark Anthony Lopez, Jessica Lu, Adrienne McQueen, Dani Miura, Bre Morgan, Kate Mulligan, Nicole Nogrady, Hash Patel, Allie Rivera, Kyle Sanders, Jessie Sherman, Don Smith, Kyle Smithson, Joseph Snyder-Kloos, Galadriel Stineman, Tasha Tacosa, Alpha Takahashi, Jobeth Wagner, Jennifer Wiener
Director: Kevin Tancharoen
Producer: United Artists, Lakeshore Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Mark Canton, Beth DePatie, David Kern, Gary Lucchesi, Eric Reid, Tom Rosenberg, Richard S. Wright
Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

“Dream it. Earn it. Live it.”

In 1980, a film broke through as few contemporary musicals ever had and became iconic, a story set in a high school in New York city where kids sang in the hallways and danced on cafeteria tables. That film was aptly titled “Fame,” dealing with the lives of teenagers in search of just that. The film was a bit raw and ahead of it’s time, dealing with issues of abortion, premarital sex, homosexuality, and even pornography, grossing over twenty one million dollars at the box office, ranked #42 of the 50 best high school movies ever, spawned a TV series, a spinoff, a stage musical, and now 2 Oscars, 6 nominations and almost three decades later school is back in session.

However, this high school (PA as it is referred to) is not the same gritty learning facility that those 80’s kids attended; these kids don’t seem filled with angst, for the most they all seem not too poor nor struggling with the same social issues that it’s predecessors had, like suicide, interracial relationships and since today premarital sex is seen as the norm, (1 Corinthians 6:18, Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.) should they get pregnant it is taught that they don’t have to deal with it because abortion (Genesis 1:27, So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created them) need not be explained as the character in the first film does, and homosexuality is also seen as an acceptable “life style,” not to mention that any one who is famous already has a sex video out so pornography has been redefined. It is very difficult not to make comparisons like the dancing is out of this world in the new version, these dancers seem to defy gravity, the singers are extremely talented and the musicians are so gifted it puts a knot in your throat to listen and watch them display their gifts. This movie plays like something you could almost watch on TV though like an episode of the new show “Glee” take away the language and you could actually sit with your kids to watch it.

What these students fight is something all together different, the “enemy” in this film is the parent. Whether it is Malik’s mom who holds down three jobs and believes her son is out of his mind to want to attend this High School instead of one that offers a more serious curriculum, or Denise’s well to do parents, who want their daughter to only play classical piano instead of singing hip hop music, these students have to battle Yes, mom and dad! The parents seem to be the bad guys and it’s as if being extremely gifted on the piano is not enough, there is a scene in the film where Denise' parents find out their daughter is now singing instead of playing classical music and the parents argue with each other or should I say the mother out votes the dad by placing her hand in his face in a very disrespectful manner right in front of her daughter and tells Denise she can do what ever makes her happy, and that they will support her no matter what dad thinks, and he just stands there silent and defeated.

Another central character Jenny, has no parents in the original she has a mom, but in this version only her father is mentioned in passing when she “invites her boyfriend over” to her dad’s apartment who is “out on a date with someone,” which leads us to know that her parents are divorced but it’s so inadvertently brought up that if you blink you miss it.

The language in the film is not heavy though somewhat offensive but even when they use it, it seems weird almost like they’re trying too hard to seem like high schoolers since they all seem so squeaky clean, they also seem not too driven only having fun. On a positive note a choir is rehearsing and it is a beautiful song which I believe it’s title is “What a mighty God we serve,” and when faced with a decision of having sex with the school’s extremely attractive guy who is achieving some stardom, to gain an acting role herself, Jenny leaves him hanging and does not go that route, and it also emphasizes the importance of a good education.

The film’s music is beautiful and it does not rely on it’s predecessor’s award winning sound track to make it good (the film’s title song isn’t even heard until the end titles come up), Malik is played convincingly by Collins Pennie, and Denise is a strong singer by the name of Naturi Naughton, and there is the presence of such accomplished mighty talents as Kelsey Grammer, Debby Allen (dance teacher in 80’s version), Megan Mullally, Bebe Newerth and Charles S. Dutton.

Were it not for the language (the s-word is used several times as is the b-word and the Lord’s name is taken in vain once, along with a few others, though the “F” word is not mentioned) this could almost be a film for Christian teen audiences and could be a study in what not to do, like being famous isn’t all it’s cut out to be and that a life without Christ is empty and without fulfillment, and that wives do not act the way Denise' mom does towards her husband (Ephesians 5:23-24—For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.). Instead the film teaches that you have to fight even your parents to achieve something in life which I found a bit contradictory since the parents were just unsure about the high school their children had chosen. (Matthew 15:4—“For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’ and, ‘He who curses mother or father let him be put to death’.”)

Though these kids are filled with insecurity and self doubt, they ultimately cast them out to fulfill what seems to be their calling which is to achieve the much worked on, much desired and much anticipated “FAME.”

I would not take a young child to see this film, and would caution parents about taking kids under the age of fifteen, if moderate language is offensive to them.

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This movie was very uplifting. I cried at different scenes—I could feel what the father was going through, his despair but still hanging on for his children’s sake. He wasn’t one to give up easily despite all odds, and I feel that’s how we as Christians ought to be. It showed how he was willing to work with a cantankerous old scientist and the seemingly hard-hearted money-makers for the good of his children and other children who had this sickness. His patience and long-suffering and spirit of determination paid off and when he felt defeated, the scientist, Bob, and the other man in charge responded in his favor.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen such a touching movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Janis, age 56 (Guatemala)
Negative
Negative—What was most distracting throughout this movie for me was it jumped from character to character without any real development. Just when you got interested in one character’s story, they left and went onto something else. Some issues were started and there was no resolution as if the director just dropped the ball in the middle of the story line. I really enjoyed the original Fame movie, but this one was very lacking. The music was very disappointing as well as were the performances. Overall, just disappointing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Lisa W., age 46 (USA)
Negative—I heard this was a pretty good movie and was in the end an uplifting experience so I sat down with my sister and her best friend, expecting a fun popcorn-movie--but that is NOT what I got. I noticed right away the terribly annoying color tones of the film. I could tell an object was supposed to be gray, but I noticed it looked brown--this is very strong throughout the film, giving it a “dirty” look. The way it was filmed is nauseating. The way things seem to blur as the camera moves, the low-quality look (think the original British “…Narnia” films), it made me dizzy, and I had a headache within the first 15 minutes.

But I was determined to finish it, because it at least had to have a good story right? Nope!! I didn’t get to know any of the characters (there’s no development, they simply exist), the script was terrible (no interesting dialogue, just a lot of cliches and filler-material), uninteresting events and skips (the film goes through all 4 years of the High School in 100 or so minutes. It also jumps quickly from one character to another to give each a few lines, then moves on just as fast.)

I want to know who looked at this script and thought 'This is gonna be a good movie.'?? There are two highlights to the film--Kelsey Grammer and I-can’t-remember-her-name (the African-American girl.) Unfortunately Kelsey doesn’t get much screen time, but that girl can sing!! She is the only talented student at that school. I’d suggest that if you haven’t seen this movie, stick with the "High School Musical(s)". They were more entertaining (though I personally despise those films), and they have no objectionable content--"Fame" has a very suggestive scene, some loud S-words and a teen drinking. How did this get a PG-rating is what stumps me. Waste of time, boring, it hurts to look at and there is no talent to be found (except for the girl I mentioned earlier.) DO NOT WATCH THIS!!!…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Ben Badger, age 18 (USA)
Comments from young people
Negative—“Fame” was a very disappointing movie! The language in “Fame” was very vulgar. The movie was very suggestive in nature. We think it should have been rated PG-13. We walked out about half way though the movie, because of the language and suggestive nature. There was a scene that involved one of the characters getting drunk. Also, there was a scene that was sexual that should not have been in a PG movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Abbey and Katie, age 12 (USA)
Positive—I love this movie! Yes, I do believe that some parts in it are offensive and inappropriate, but overall, it was good. To me, the dancing was fabulous, and the acting was pretty good. If you have a child that is 13 or older, I recommend this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Gloria Smith, age 13 (USA)
Negative—This movie was very disappointing. I went to the movie excited and came back disappointed. There was severe bad language throughout the whole movie and some scenes are inappropriate for every age category. Some of the outfits worn during this film were highly inappropriate as well. This movie should have been rated PG-13 instead of PG (even my friends agreed with me on the rating). If you are planning to go see this movie I would highly discourage it. Not only was it inappropriate, it was also not very interesting.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Rain, age 14 (USA)
Positive—I thought this film was great. The language is not anything a teenager has never heard. But you shouldn’t let a kid under 10 see it. There are kissing scenes. But they have those in G rated movies. So, overall, this was a pretty good movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Olivia, age 13 (USA)