Review in a Hurry: The '80s sensation is reborn for the High School Musical generation. But sadly, this one's all fame, no journey.
The Bigger Picture: What's most telling about the new Fame is the omission of one the most memorable lines from series (first a film in 1980, then a hit show). Every week, dance instructor Debbie Allen would proclaim to Gen-X types everywhere: "You've got big dreams? You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying ... in sweat."
But the lesson for the millennial generation, apparently, is just show up and you'll receive a dance number worthy of the best episode of So You Think You Can Dance.
Director Kevin Tancharoen has worked with Britney and The Pussycat Dolls, so the production value here is stellar. Even the tiniest of dance moves are given full glossy, slo-mo treatment. He and his choreographers have energy to spare and the cast is gorgeously lit.
But the story of Fame is about becoming a star, not being one. Yet in scene-after-scene, the script by Allison Burnett can barely muster any type of conflict. Sure, down-home gal Kay Panabaker might be naive enough to think that an "audition" for a love scene is legit, but who hasn't been there, right? And then there's the young rapper (Collins Pennie) who doesn't want to talk about his feelings. Oh the irony!
The students may be newcomers, but the teachers are played by veterans Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally and Fame alum Debbie Allen, who all seem up for the challenge. But they don't have much to do but look camera-ready. Former SYTYCD contestant Kherington Payne has been heavily featured in the trailers, too, but ends up she's only in a few scenes. She has one Fosse-esque performance that impresses, but overall, she barely registers.
At 90 minutes, cramming in four years of hopes and dreams at the fabled New York City High School of Performing Arts feels like one long music video, rather than a movie.
The 180—a Second Opinion: The dance numbers are infectious and, with such a strong young cast, years from now we may look back and see Fame as the movie that launched many careers. Baby, remember their names.
See what's out there, and what's good, in our hot-buttered movie reviews