Reviewed by: Nory Garcia
|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|
|Producer||United Artists, Lakeshore Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Mark Canton, Beth DePatie, David Kern, Gary Lucchesi, Eric Reid, Tom Rosenberg, Richard S. Wright|
“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.