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“Fame" (2009) {Blu-ray}-(Wayne)
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: MGM
Genre:
Musical
Release Date:
1/12/10
Special Features:

Featurettes, deleted scenes

Review:

When I was a kid I wanted to play guitar. My parents took me to see a piano teacher who insisted that I SHOULD play piano (of course he did) because my fingers were too small to effectively play guitar (which would imply they were also too short to play piano but I digress) and my parents—both smart folks to a tee—bought it because, well, he was a music teacher and an expert. I took piano for two years never truly mastering the instrument and messing around with my guitar on the side because that’s what I wanted to play. I’m no Stevie Ray Vaughn but I can play for my own enjoyment something I never really learned to do with the piano. See there was a rock god that was itching to break out of my piano playing skin and piano just wasn’t cool unless you were Elton John (and by that time we knew he was gay). ***

Like me Denise Dupree (Naturi Naughton) in the remake of “Fame” just wanted to rock out or in this case be a R’n’B performer but she’s stuck studying classical piano (which could be a good thing if she could look beyond next week but like most kids she can’t). Some of the kids that she ends up studying with at the arts high school end up gaining professional gigs but just as many end up going home rejected and dejected. She’s joined by a would-be filmmaker (Paul Iacono), an actor who quickly turns professional (Maria Perez de Tagle), talented singer (Asher Book), a ballerina who takes the golden ticket (Kherington Payne) while leaving her boyfriend behind (Walter Perez). All of these characters are “types” that don’t have depth to them and, hence, their tragedies, decisions and romances really don’t resonate. ***

Dancing, singing, fame seeking folks are around us all the time and “American Idol” has become the new proving ground replacing game shows as the proving ground for the average person to become famous, make a little cash and then move on to a question in a trivia game. When “Fame” came out in the 1980’s it was the little film that could made about kids going to a college designed to augment their abilities and fine tune their talent. “Fame” also was as memorable as “Flash Dance”—a bit of cinematic kitsch very much of its time. It’s not “An American in Paris” more like “Broadway Melody of 1936”. The TV series that the movie spawned in the 80’s improved on the movie actually telling worthwhile stories and crafting worthwhile characters. ***

The 2009 remake can’t even touch the lightweight original film it’s an example of a film that fails to capture the very essence that made the original film fun but inconsequential. That’s not to say that “Fame” isn’t an enjoyable little flick to pass the time. The original isn’t any great shakes either but the remake packs too much action in with too little time for the characters or to develop a believable plot. That’s not a surprise given that we’re living in an “American Idol” driven culture where every other segment features someone being elevated or shot down. ***

The remake of “Fame” is nothing more than a series of music video moments (much like the original film and “Flash Dance”) influenced by our increasingly attention deficit culture’s inability to sit still and actually WATCH a movie, participate it in and recognize that entertainment consists of something more than a thrill ride that must pack action into every single moment. ---

Image & Sound:

If looks could kill, “Fame” would murder the competiton with a dazzling Blu-ray presentation that positively pops with rich colors and detail. Be aware that some of the handheld camera work and shooting style does result in the occasional soft image but on the whole if “Fame” was a performer on “American idol” the image quality would allow it to win thumbs up from Simon Cowell. ***

Audio sounds strong with a beautiful sounding lossless 5.1 presentation. ---

Special Features:

We get both the original theatrical presentation and extended edition presented in a seamless presentation the difference being more performance footage. ***

We also get deleted scenes, a music video for “Fame”, behind-the-scenes “The Dances of Fame” and two featurettes “Remember My Name” focusing on the characters and “Fame National Talent Search Finalists” all presented in HD. The latter was a contest where the winners got a spread in OK magazine. ---

Final Words:

“Fame” isn’t a disaster. It’s pretty to look at and if that’s all you want to do look at dancing and singing folks like “American Idol” without much in the way of plot or dramatic performance “Fame” is your baby.

 

 
 
 
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