“Fame” Isn’t Dark and Gritty like the Original, Dur!

Genres: Drama, Musical/Performing Arts, Remake and Teen
Running Time:
1 hr. 47 min.
Release Date:
September 25th, 2009 (wide)
MPAA Rating:
PG for thematic material including teen drinking, a sexual situation and language.
United Artists Films, MGM Distribution Company

Directed By: Kevin Tancharoen

JJ Rating: B+

It’s a remake of the old, old, old, old, old 1980’s movie Fame.

Ok, it’s not really that old, but still it looks that old via film. Good thing I age better since I hail from the same decade.

I knew it was important that I see the original before I was to see the new version. Seeing that the old was rated R and the new one was rated PG that there was significant differences between the two being more than just language. After seeing the original that was, of course, not the only difference. There was nudity in the first one. It was very gratuitous nudity. The language was abrasive for no reason but OMG the teenagers talk like that. When it starts to distract from the storyline and makes it more of a farce, I think it then starts to become unnecessary. When someone starts swearing and cussing up a storm being all pissed off they start becoming a joke of themselves. Have you ever seen Debra on “Dexter”? She swears the most in that show and when she starts and continues it turns into a joke…well to me. After someone passes their quota of F this and F that I start to take them less and less serious the more F’s that trip out of their trite little mouths.

Now with all that it makes me sound like I hated the original and love the cleaner (not clean) version. Not so. I like the original Fame because it was dark and I like the newer version because it wasn’t dark. And after seeing some reviews of the newer version the idea seems to be as long as the movie is dark, gritty and swears a lot then it’s more real. Uh…no. I don’t care if people know those kinds of people and can relate that doesn’t make it more real. It almost makes it really sad. Because those in the new film people can relate too and there are people just like them off screen, but apparently that doesn’t make the film more real to many people. So it’s a joke when someone thinks a film is more real because it has a darker tone to it. Life isn’t darker than the movies for everyone, ok? Seriously let’s not get melodramatic just so we can get noticed by the Oscars. Oops…too late.

I really, really, really, really, really hate the term cliché as well as the OVER use of it in so many people’s posts, comments or reviews of anything. They use it as an insult to convey that it’s too contrite. However, the problem is that just because something was angry and punch a hole emotional bitterness does not in any way make it more real. The original Fame was good but it was so angry and so over done that if people really live like that? It’s comedic. If we want to get into ‘clichés’ then why not speak about the black student that doesn’t want to read and why would that be? Because he can’t? That’s as clichéd as black people don’t like to swim (tough Survivor proves that readily season after season). Or how about the comedian with the dark abusive past…ooh. Or the gay teen that doesn’t feel like he fits in? Or the friend that gets mad and totally verbally hate crimes his friend with all kinds of clichéd things to say to a gay person? OR, as a matter of fact, an entire scene where the teen boys are looking in on the teen girls in their locker room as they undress and show off their breast? Well that’s original. Oh but it’s real….if one really wants to be nitpicky about clichés and what movie has it, the original Fame wouldn’t stand a chance in hell.

Kherington Payne is the only person I’m going to speak about with the acting. I think she was not good. She is a fantastic dancer, but it was painfully obvious that she couldn’t act. She did not have many speaking lines and that is probably due to the fact that her acting wasn’t that great. Her dancing is awesome just like on “So You Think You Can Dance?” but that was about it, oh and she looked good with her real hair and ok with the extensions. I don’t really understand the necessity for them, but at least she didn’t look terrible. I would like to mention Asher Book who played Marco. I think that there's a star in this one that is going to just shoot across one day and get so much attention.

The rest did well. They acted well enough, they sang good enough and they danced good enough. I personally enjoyed the levity with the storyline more so than drudging through what negatives someone enjoys as life. I’ve seen movies like Monster’s Ball and see no purpose in them other than to cause depression and hatred and lack of any understanding or remote good feeling. At least with horror movies people find them funny and enjoyable and people are dying left and right, but with movies that are dark for seriousness they lack a human heart and feeling.

The original Fame I would give an A- and the new Fame I gave a B+. The old one is good because they were really down to earth with everything and the production values were not high because the school itself wasn’t that rich to begin with. I have to agree with Ebert on that. It’s not devastating that the production of the graduation was so grand looking. I personally wished that graduations were more entertaining like that instead of the long drawn out boring walk and speech after speech that no one remembers.

I liked how the translated some of the storylines into the new one and how they switched the characters here and there and dropped the gay character. Because a big reveal of a gay character isn’t nearly as shocking as it was back in the olden days. There was a lot of shifting and it was for the better so that a new generation of content caring parents would allow their children to see a PG version of what they saw. It is not the dark, gritty Fame of the past. It’s a new Fame and it’s more like a retelling than a remake. If you are stuck on how great the old one was it is best you forego seeing this one. It’ll totally disappoint and you’ll wonder why they even bothered. They bothered because there ware a lot of young kids that enjoy dance, acting and singing and it was a perfect opportunity to pull it out now. Though it didn’t make a lot of money on opening weekend, it will even out and eventually make some profit. It’s not like they were reaching for fame.

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