by Elaine Hegwood Bowen
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I can’t say that I remember the other Fame movie, but I like the latest version of a movie that gives high school students a chance to exceed, not only in the performing arts but academically as well.
Naturi Naughton has redeemed herself in Fame, as far as I’m concerned, after playing a raunchy Lil Kim in Notorious. Naughton plays Denise, who is sort of a preppy and comes from a middle class family. She even takes cabs to school, as her father is very protective of her. So much so that both father and mother are a bit concerned when Denise ventures away from classical piano as her life-long love to something in the pop/hip-hop genre.
Malik, played by Collins Penne, is another student who has a troubled past, but he’s able to break through with much prodding by Dutton, who is the theatre instructor.
An assortment of disciplines is offered, including dance, orchestra, piano and theatre, and the scenes in the lunchroom where the students just go for it and freestyle are exciting.
Many of the students learn similar lessons, maybe not by losing their money, but by reaching for the stars too soon and finding themselves in comprising situations or even just dropping out of school entirely.
Of course, graduation is one big performance, but the students have had many times in front of strange audiences, as a couple of the instructors take them to the local clubs so they can hone their skills.
Fame is a good movie for students all over to see: they get to see what hard work can reap for them in the end. And for some it may not be the stars, but it will definitely be an education and something upon which to hitch a wagon and go for the gold!
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.
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