Fame is the inspiring story of a group of dancers, singers, musicians and actors at the New York City High School of Performing Arts, and their spirited drive to live out their dreams of stardom. In an incredibly competitive atmosphere, each student must shine amidst the tumult of school work, deep friendships, budding romance and self-discovery. Debbie Allen, Charles S. Dutton, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally and Bebe Neuwirth co-star along side a group of gifted young performers in this soaring reinvention of the original Oscar®-winning hit film.
It baffles this reviewer why some musicals do not go down well with audiences. There have been several movie adaptations of stage musicals like Rob Marshall’s Chicago (2002), Mama Mia! (2008) and Nine (2009), but each had its fair share of bad reviews. There would be the usual group of people who are purists of stage productions, jumping at every chance they have to criticise a movie adaptation. There would be the group of people who detest actors who attempt to sing, jumping at every opportunity to slam their vocal skills. And of course, there would be the group who just refuse to indulge themselves in the joy of music and dance. So it is only fortunate that this DVD is reviewed by a columnist who enjoys every moment of a pleasurable musical.
Based on the 1980 hit movie, this energetic production centres on a group of young people who follows their dreams to attend the New York City High School for the Performing Arts. There, their ambitions of becoming actors, singers or dancers will get materialised through specialised training and lessons.
While it is clear that there is nothing particularly exciting about the plot, what we were looking out for is the hours of delight and enjoyment it can provide. And we were satisfied with the 107 minutes of gratification the movie gave us. Since the production is based on a 1980s movie, one can also feel the unique charm and vintage while watching it. Thanks to a familiar storytelling structure chosen by director Kevin Tancharoen to relate his tale, it takes us back in time when younger people dared to dream of greater things to come. That was also the period when true friends were made through the passion for arts, and the never say die attitude prevailed.
It is also apt choice for Tancharoen to take up the directing role because of his previous experience in music videos and performances (his street cred include directing The Pussycat Dolls and Britney Spears). In terms of casting, he has chosen a relatively unknown group of actors to play the different roles in the movie. It works because viewers are not distracted by the Hollywood glitz and glamour of these stars, and becoming fully convinced that these young folks have what it takes to aspire to make it big in life. It also helps that they are rather good vocalists, belting out tunes like “Street Hustlin’”, “I Put A Spell On You” and “Get On The Floor”. These songs bring out the best in young people, and it will make anyone who has gone through that stage in life feel the exciting vigour. Those who prefer something more emotional can watch (and listen) out for Asher Book’s “Someone to Watch Over Me”. The sentimental tune, coupled with the young actor’s unassuming vocals, is perfect for a soothing listening experience.
So we’d say: Don’t be a scrooge, get into the groove of things and enjoy this musical the way it was meant to be.
A Music Video for Fame is included in this Code 3 DVD. We would have loved to see other songs included in the miserable platter too.
The disc’s visual transfer maintains the glitz and glamour of the movie, and is presented in its original English dialogue.
Review by John Li
Posted on 29 April 2010