Movie Review: Fame

Movie Review: Fame

Fame – 2009


Rated PG for thematic material including teen drinking,
a sexual situation and language.

Running Time: 1 hour 42 minutes

This is a reinvention of the original Oscar winning hit film Fame. It also follows a talented group of dancers, singers, actors and artists over four years at the New York City High School of Performing Arts. The school allows students from all walks of life to live out their dreams and achieve real and lasting fame…the kind that only comes from talent, dedication and hard work.

In an incredibly competitive atmosphere, plagued by self-doubt, each student’s passion will be put to the test. In addition to their artistic goals, they have to deal with everything else that goes along with high school. It’s a tumultuous time full of schoolwork, deep friendships, budding romance and self-discovery.

A Blast From The Past


The new Fame is called a reinvention, instead of a remake, so they can stray from the original. However, some things remain the same. This blast from the past still follows the lives of students as they strive for their own moment in the spotlight. Along the way they discover who among them has the talent and discipline to succeed. With the love and support of their friends and fellow artists, they discover who among them will achieve Fame. Just like the original Fame, this 2009 offering tracks the failures and fortunes of super-ambitious young performers and their teachers as they navigate a school year at the prestigious High School for the Performing Arts in New York.

I must admit Fame was better than I thought it would be.

It’s called a reinvention for a reason. If you go to this movie thinking it will be just like the 1980 musical, or even remotely like the TV series of the same the name, you will be sorely disappointed. The only resemblance of the originalĀ Fame revolves around the storyline of kids attending the New York City High School of Performing Arts. After that, any similarities quickly fade away. While Debbie Allen shows up as Principal Simms, her part can only be classified as a bit-part. It could almost be called a cameo appearance. Her role is merely there as a flashback to the original Fame where she was very prominent. If anything, the better adult role is played by Kelsey Grammer. It’s really too bad they didn’t make his role a little more prominent.

A Toe-Tapping Musical

Earlier I admitted that Fame was better than I expected. The reason for this revolves around the fact that I usually don’t like musicals. Sandra loves them, but not I. When it comes to movies, I just find musicals boring as dialogue is sung. But, that’s just me and I know it’s a matter of taste for me. That’s why it’s great to review movies as a couple! However, this musical is very different from the usual musical genre. While the main thrust of Fame is a musical one, they do not sing dialogue.

Even after saying that, Fame is more about the music,
than it is about the dialogue and script.

The music and dance production of Fame is incredible. I actually want to get the soundtrack for this movie. That’s saying a lot because I do not usually buy soundtracks unless they really catch my attention in a movie. The production, visuals, and over-all sound when it comes to the music aspect of this movie literally jump off the screen at you. It really is a toe-tapping movie.

However, when it comes to scriptwriting and dialogue, it is lacking. At times it merely gets in the way as the filmmaker tried to make connections with the kids in relationship to what was going on in the movie. That’s not to say there aren’t some very good lessons in this movie about discovering who you are, making mistakes, and learning to push through the pain. But, from time to time the dialogue portions of Fame seem like an after-thought when it came to film production. Some of the scenes are poorly shot and lack the luster and brilliance of the musical scenes.

The good news, even though some of the dialogue scenes are poorly done, this does not take away from the over-all brilliance of Fame. When all is said and done, this reinvention of Fame is worth seeing.

If I liked it, and it’s a musical, it has to be good right?

As for the rating, we have to say it’s cautionary family-rating with the current PG classification. While there’s nothing horrendously bad in this movie, a PG-13 rating would have suited it much better. We do applaud the filmmakers for taking what was originally an R rated movie in the 1980’s, and toning it down to the PG category. We wondered how they would pull that off.

The bottom line is, Fame is not a movie for young kids. After all, it’s about a group of high school students trying to figure out their place in the world. Again, we applaud the filmmakers for not filling the movie with swearing and the seedier side of high school life. But that said, if you view this movie with a PG-13 rating in mind, you will do well when deciding if it’s something for your kids to see.

Cautiously enjoy the show!
Dr. Rus

About the Author

Dr. Rus has 30+ years experience in the field of communication. He takes this experience, and his passion to encourage others to positively effect their environment, when providing insight and movie reviews.