This fame drips with irony

11 10 2009
Fame - Fame OST

Though the movie didn't live up to the hype, I'm considering getting the OST. Naturi Naughton and Asher Book were glorious in their songs.

THE TITLE of this remake – Fame – is dripping with irony.  Let me make that clear, this remake, NOT the original 1980 Alan Parker film.  And when I get reminded of lines from the title track – “Remember my name / Fame! / I’m gonna live forever” – I cringe then I laugh.

It started out promising.  I actually liked the opening scenes in which the characters audition for limited slots at the New York High School of Performing Arts a.k.a. PA.  Marco (Asher Book) could’ve very well been one of those aspirants on American Idol who unexpectedly sounds good and very much unlike the way he looks.  His “Ordinary People” (the John Legend original) was quietly seething with soul and managed to make me love the song right there and then.  As for the others, oh well.

With so many characters making it to programs on voice, classical piano, theatre arts, and dance, I expected to be let in on their lives – the backstories, the conflicts – and what led them to what could be one of the city’s highly competitive high schools.  But by the moment the title card “Junior Year” comes up on screen, I realized that all the story this remake has has been told with the auditions.  Three years into their programs, the characters are no better than when they were just avoiding to be cut and sent home.  You don’t feel their passion.  You don’t get a sense of what drives them.  I don’t think one scene of arguing with one’s mom about going to PA or with one’s dad about practicing ‘til midnight for the production of “Chicago” constitutes the kind of conflict that will make you root for a film’s protagonists.  Lauryn Hill in Sister Act 2 and the kids in High School Musical were so much more conflicted, I suddenly missed them.

The dance teacher (Bebe Neuwirth), in sending away a mediocre student – softening the blow by sugarcoating her message that said student will make a good teacher – unwittingly provides the best critique of the movie.  Like the student, the film is promising at the start but sadly fails to fulfill that promise.  As she says this, the film cuts to the dance extravaganza of the top female student in which she is crawling backwards with quite a seductive look on her face.  Sitting through it, I wished the whole movie would crawl backwards, ease out, and fade to black totally.

And oh, the mediocre student is so devastated by the put-down that he attempts to leap onto the subway tracks.  I actually rooted for him to jump.  At least that would’ve put his ballet training to good use.

Nobody – yes, nobody – seems to be concerned about mastering their potentials.  They are all preoccupied with being famous that they either get duped into an independent film venture, almost starred in their own sex video, turned down by a record label, dropped out to take a 22-city dance concert tour, or taken a bit role in Sesame Street.  “Sesame Street?!  Oh shit, that show’s still on?”  At that point, I scratched my head, checked out the time on my Swiss timepiece, and wondered to myself why the movie was still on.  And me sitting through it still.

Funny that something that doesn’t have a story could take almost a couple of hours.  I stood out and left even before the finale.  Why?  Simply because if I were their teacher, I’d flunk all of them that there wouldn’t be a need for a graduation show.  Okay, probably not all of them.  I’d have to give “mad props” to Denise (Naturi Naughton) for her impassioned “Out Here On My Own” and Marco for the couple of bars of “Someone To Watch Over Me” and that song he sang at the restaurant.

The rest will definitely not live forever.  I don’t even remember their names.