Posted: 09/29/2009




by Sawyer J. Lahr

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It’s a risky thing for artists to take a piece of work and translate it years later for a new generation and still be effective. To update a musical’s song book and the same lyrics are still relevant and performed as if for the first time.

Jenny Garrison (Kay Panabaker), Victor Taveras (Walter Perez), Denise Dupree (Naturi Naughton), Marco (Asher Book), Alice Ellerton (Kherington Payne), Malik Washburn (Collins Pennie) survive the harsh auditions and the cuts with no guarantee of success. Rather than have food fights like normal teenagers, these young entertainers at the New York Performing Arts High School have impromptu concerts in the lunchroom.

Over twenty years since the original 1980 Fame was released, Director Kevin Tancharoen and Choreographer, Marguerite Pomerhn Derricks, are faithful yet pack a punch with refreshed hip hop beats, boy band pop music, and vocals that resemble the stars of the past ten years: Byonce, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, and the Jonas Brothers of late. The grit of the original film was cleaned up by making nearly all the characters middle to upper class except Malik Washburn (Pennie), the son of single mother who wants to rap about the streets.

This time around the students are a great deal more talented than the first bunch, but no story about competition would be balanced without at least one loser who so happens to be suicidal and gay. This is not a children’s movie though it was marketed that way. The PG rating is surprising considering the suicidal messages and the creepy television actor who tapes himself making out with girls he tricks into fake auditions. The ratings board was out to lunch during this one, but it makes for a musical about teens that’s more adult than Hannah Montana the Movie.

Sawyer J. Lahr is Chief Editor of the forthcoming online publication, Go Over the Rainbow. He also writes a monthly film column for Mindful Metropolis, a conscious living magazine in Chicago, IL.

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