Film Review : Fame
By guest writer Dr. P
Well if there's one movie guaranteed to provide an enjoyable night out, it was sure to be Fame. The original movie and 80s series was a classic of its time, focusing on the students and staff of the New York Academy of the Performing Arts - cue classic music, cheesy dance routines, singing and general camp mayhem. So how would the 2009 version stack up?
I was accompanied to the flicks by my best friend and twin, Nicky ... who decided to pay homage to the original by garbing up in a mass of pink accessories and leggings ... I did think that this was a little odd given the film had been updated to be set in these more "urban" times, but it certainly looked the part! We were giggling away like little kids as we got to the big screen ... cue some silly dancing on the way in ... unfortunately my recently-knackered ankle precluded full-on spins and silliness, but it was still fun.
We entered the vast open spaces of screen 7 to discover ... ONE other person present! Some weird chap sat about half way up! I was surprised as I was expecting a decent crowd. Anyway we decided to sit right at the back, which would allow for plenty of dancing and silliness - even more so when the other chap left after about 20 minutes (prompting Nicky to shout "do you want it pausing?") :)
Now I'd been demonstrating my own patented butt-slapping dance move in the foyer and said how hilarious it would be if anyone did it during the film. Hilariously it appeared not once but TWICE in the trailers!! First Vince Vaughan did it in the trailer for Couples Retreat (which looks hilarious), and then the King of Pop himself, Wacko Jacko, pulls off the move in the trailer for his dance flick!! Magnificent! Please do approach me and ask for a demonstration anytime ...
The film essentially follows the 4 year life and love cycles of one group of students as they initially auditioned and then made their way through their courses ... we followed the story of about half a dozen key characters, including the the angry young streetwise black actor, the shy, reserved girl (who you just knew was going to burst out of her shell at some point), the classical pianist who just wanted to get down and dirty with some rap, and their colleagues. Cliches galore throughout, and did we care? Did we heck! It was fun fun fun!
The teachers list reads like a who's who of classic American sitcoms, with Megan Mullally (Karen from Will & Grace) particularly entertaining as the almost-succeeded-on-Broadway-but-never-quite-made-it singing tutor. Kelsey Grammer is also good as the piano coach, and his Cheers screen wife Bebe Neuwirth (Lilith Crane) also features in the dance studio. At one point I expected George Wendt to stroll in, with all the students suddenly stopping and shouting "Nooooooooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmmmm".
We kinda got a sense of the cheesiness of the movie early on, when a cafeteria lunch scene suddenly turned into an all-dancing, all-singing spectacular, with pots and pans subbing for drums and the tables seeing some pretty spectacular dance moves - a bit like our work kitchen to be honest, although we go more for the comedy routines than singing ... so yeah really camp and cheesy - perfect!
The students' stories weren't particularly riveting, and we did spend most of the film a) laughing and b) wondering when Leroy was going to appear - now that would have provided the icing on the cake! Sadly he didn't ...
If you are expecting a musical spectacular to rival Mamma Mia, you might be disappointed - that said, the kids themselves are super talented. Some wonderful voices (particularly the black girl who started as a pianist and ended up as a rapper), a couple of particularly brilliant dancers, and some excellent musical numbers, but the weak and cliched storyline lets it down quite a bit. If you ignore the filler and just wait for the performances, this is excellent - and no annoying little Irish twins either!
The highlight of the night then came as we were making our way out and Nicky decided to jump down about 6 steps and pull off a street dance move or two. This was going brilliantly as she went airborne ... and slightly less brilliantly as her bag strap got caught on a seat rest and brought her smacking down to the ground. How we tittered ... there followed some more silly moves on the way out to end a most enjoyable and amusing night!