Much like the vampire genre, dance films have become a dime a dozen both theatrically and straight-to-DVD. Having recently seen the 1980 Alan Park version of Fame, it’s obvious the same techniques were not being employed in the hip restyling of the film. What started as a gritty drama about making it in New York becomes a happy song and dance film about how easy it is to be a star and some of the bumps that crop up.
While the dancing in Fame is about on par with all other movies of the genre, the story is merely a cold rehash of the original without any of the drama. For those who don’t remember, the original film boasted an R rating and this is merely a PG retread for fans of the High School Musical phenomenon. The biggest problems involve parents who don’t understand the hardships of being a singer, actor or dancer. Scenes from the original like philandering “casting” directors and abortions are excised completely, the only instance being a philandering actor attempting to make a “casting” tape with a girl and even then nothing happens. There’s no meat to the story and by the end of the film I had trouble remembering character’s names. All the actors’ looks alike, merely kids who could be on a CW show, and their range of acting makes them all appear either wide-eyed or wooden. The dance sequences are fun but they’re shoe-horned in almost like musical interludes. The burlesque type number is the sharpest but it has the weakest plot as it’s interspersed with a serious scene involving a ballet dancer whose told they aren’t good. In the end I was bored with Fame. It’s a CW television movie at best and for those looking for something sharper or grittier would do best to watch the original film. If you’re a part of the High School Musical crowd Fame won’t be anything different.
The DVD supposedly contains an original and extended cut on a “flipper” disc. Supposedly it contains fifteen additional minutes but there doesn’t seem to be anything of notice, mainly some extended dance scenes but little else. There’s an excessively long fifteen minutes of deleted and extended scenes, extended being the key word as many where merely elongated dialogue scenes that were trimmed. Almost everything contained in this section ended up in the movie, merely trimmed a bit. For a movie like this it’s commonplace to have a music video, fans can see the video to the remake of the song “Fame” performed by Naturie Naughton and Collins Pennie. It’s a flashy video similar to the performance from Amanda Seyfried in the Mamma Mia DVD, but the song is better without the visuals. “Remember My Name” and the “Fame National Talent Search Finalists” highlight the actors in the movie and are by far the most boring features. The former is merely cast member profiles with video of the actors live, similar to an American Idol episode. The latter is a group of kids trying to win a walk-on role and it’s about as fun as it sounds. “The Dances of Fame” is the least annoying of the group, highlighting the dance sequences and choreography. It’s pretty light and fluffy but all things considered if you enjoyed the dance segments, this is what you should watch.
Fame had potential but it seems to play it safe. The best bet is to stick to the Alan Parker original, or if you’re a parent this is great for your kids to watch before getting into the source material. The DVD is a bit too overproduced for most people and there’s not a lot to keep you entertained.