Remake of Fame Spotlight

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There are a lot of movies about the angst and the hope of high school, and even a few musicals set in that time period, but none of them were quite as devastating or as memorable as “Fame.” The film came out in 1980 and is about the life of an ensemble cast of talented teenagers as they enroll in an extremely competitive performing arts high school. Only the best of the best get into the New York High School of Performing Arts, and those that do get in must prepare for four years of grueling practice and soul crushing criticism. The students learn that they must lean on one another and on anyone they can trust to get through unscathed. A remake is coming out on September 25th, so Starpulse thought they’d take a look back at the revolutionary original film and what the new one can give to the modern world.

The original “Fame” was very much set in the 80’s, and it is branded in the clothes, the lingo, and the attitude of its students. The movie was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning two, and spawned a successful television show and a musical. The ensemble cast included students of all disciplines and artist backgrounds, including hothead dancer Leroy (Gene Anthony Ray), sweet actress Doris (Maureen Teefy), arrogant Coco (Irene Cara), shy Bruno (Lee Curreri), and colorful Montgomery (Paul McCrane). The movie is set into four different parts which bring us through the students Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior year. It ends at graduation with a beautiful and uplifting final song.

The heart of “Fame” is that while these students are all ambitious and talented, they still are teenagers. They still have problems fitting in, finding romances, and keeping their grades up high. There are friendships made, hearts broken, and the startling realization that not every single one of them really can become ‘stars.’ The movie dealt with serious issues like homosexuality, suicide, drug use, and abortion. This isn’t just a sweet movie musical; it can be difficult to watch at times, and it was at the time cutting edge. So basically … the remake has big shoes to fill, and a whole load of fans who will be against anyone messing with their beloved story.


Image © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

The new “Fame” is supposed to be a reinvention rather than just a remake. It will probably be updated to the 21st century so that instead of embodying the 80’s, it’ll embody modern day. Like before it follows a group of dancers, singers, actors, and musicians over their four years at the New York City High School of Performing Arts. From the previews, it looks like the highly competitive nature of the school will be spotlighted and the connections the characters make with one another. It remains to be seen if they will follow the original’s plot or make up new ones, but as long as it stays true to the heart it should be fine.

It will star “So You Think You Can Dance” contestant Kherington Payne as Alice, former pop singer Naturi Naughton as Denise, Kay Panabaker from “Nancy Drew,” and several other budding young stars. Debbie Allen, one of the actresses from the original, returns as the principal of the school, and Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, and Bebe Neuwirth all co-star as teachers as the prestigious school. The movie soundtrack has been released to stores and iTunes featuring the new cast.

The new movie has a dangerous road ahead of it. What it has to do is respect the original material, but find ways to make an old story brand new and fresh. It has to make the fans of the original happy, and draw in a whole new generation of viewers. There is a concern that due to the flashiness of the trailer that it might rely too much on the dancing and singing to distract the audience from having little substance in terms of plot and acting. These days there are many movies that give eye candy but little else, and “Fame” was not just about the musical. That was an excellent supplement to an otherwise emotional journey, and right now the trailer makes it look more like a sequel “Step Up.”

However, fans of dance and music should enjoy this film even if it doesn’t seek to be deeper than it has to be, and if it does manage to bring back the sincerity of the original, this could be a game changer for the musical world. You’ll just have to check it out in theaters September 25th to see how it lives up or if – gasp – it surpasses its predecessor.


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