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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.33%
Worth A Look53.33%
Average: 13.33%
Pretty Bad: 13.33%
Total Crap: 6.67%

1 review, 9 user ratings

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by Scott Weinberg

"I'm gonna live (in syndication) forever!"
4 stars

I hate it when they turn really solid movies into flimsy television series. Sure, sure, "MASH" is obviously an exception, but those exceptions are few and far between.

At best, a television adaptation may prove a diverting or mildly entertaining piece of marketing-inspired nostalgia, but the worst-case-scenario proves fairly disturbing: when people think of Fame, their thought process probably looks like this:

1. "Oh yeah, that song! Remember my name! Fame! Hah!"

2. "Oh yeah, that super-cool TV show from the eighties. Man that was a good show..."

3. "Oh yeah, wasn't that show...based on a movie or something?"

And therein lies the problem: the TV show was a warmed-up after-school-special about spoiled kids who liked to dance. The original movie is a gritty and realistic look at the desperate climb for...well, for fame. In an effort to homogenize the film for television production, the movie feels a lot less impactful with hindsight. So go rent Fame and give it a new look.

Sure, much of the film is hopelessly outdated by today's standards: the fashions are silly, the music is fairly corny, the racial undertones are rather obviously tied down, etc. But taken as a time capsule back to the goofy old early-80s, or as a now-old-fashioned-yet-kinda-retro movie musical - Fame is still a pretty good time.

The 2+ hour movie covers one full year at the New York City High School for the Performing Arts, and let's just say the school is packed to the rafters with all sorts of performers. We got singers and dancers, actors and writers, musicians of every persuasion and one young guy addicted to those new-fangled "synthesizers". The eclectic young cast delivers a series of angst-laden subplots; some kids are nervous, others are insecure, some can't hack it, others just give up.

Scattered amidst the stress are a collection of rousing musical numbers, sequences that act in the traditional sense of a "Movie Musical Number" - but also mesh flawlessly with the narrative because, hey, it's a movie about teenagers who sing and dance all day! What could be more natural?

The great Alan Parker is clearly a fan of the Music & Movies combo: he's directed Pink Floyd: The Wall, The Commitments, Evita and that insane all-kids Bugsy Malone flick in addition to Fame - so clearly the man likes all sorts of tunes.

The added bonus is that Alan Parker is a fantastic filmmaker, so as Fame begins to unspool and you realize that the movie's a lot more endearingly grimy and profane than you recall...just blame it on that stupid TV knockoff.

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originally posted: 04/30/04 19:26:17
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User Comments

8/03/09 A. Jacobs One of my fav. films - It has great charaters and storylines. 5 stars
2/18/08 Pamela White makes me want to dance and sing 4 stars
11/08/07 Gary Szasz The review is wrong, it's 4 years in the life of students. Fun film & good music. 4 stars
2/21/05 lipsmacker It was confusing and akward, and at some points just plain cheesy, some parts were overly, 1 stars
2/17/05 Daveman Attempts to be both uplifting and sobering, failing on both counts, nice s/t though 2 stars
6/10/03 Pinkline Jones Philippe Sarde robbed of Best Score Oscar for Tess. Fame won - Academy should be shot 3 stars
4/24/03 Andrew Carden Realistic and Upbeat Musical-Drama With Great Performances and Score. 5 stars
4/13/03 Jack Sommersby Like Parker's "Midnight Express", it's fatally overblown and overstated. 2 stars
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  16-May-1980 (R)
  DVD: 01-Jun-2004



Directed by
  Alan Parker

Written by
  Christopher Gore

  Irene Cara
  Lee Curreri
  Albert Hague
  Paul McCrane
  Gene Anthony Ray
  Maureen Teefy

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