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Remember its name: ‘Fame’

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Published: Tue, September 29, 2009 @ 9:07 p.m.
 

Fame

A reinvention of the original Oscar®-winning hit film, "Fame" follows a talented group of dancers, singers, actors, and artists over four years at the New York City High School of Performing Arts, a diverse, creative powerhouse where students from all walks of life are given a chance to live out their dreams and achieve real and lasting fame...the kind that comes only 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, a tumultuous time full of schoolwork, deep friendships, budding romance, and self-discovery. As each student strives for his or her moment in the spotlight, they'll discover who among them has the innate talent and necessary discipline to succeed. With the love and support of their friends and fellow artists, they'll find out who amongst them will achieve... Fame.

Showtimes and more on Fame

Before I was born, my mother loved “Fame.” She loved it so much that we own the first two seasons of the 1982 TV series on DVD. As her child, I grew up watching both the series and the 1980 Oscar-winning musical.

I still like the original, though not nearly as much as the current remake. In his big screen directorial debut, Kevin Tancharoen pulled off the impossible: making a legendary movie even better.

Tancharoen takes the original concept of struggling art students at the New York Academy of Performing Arts and transforms it into a family-friendly flick. It’s free of the vulgarity and profanity that was slightly overwhelming its predecessor. With no nudity, drug references or dirty words, “Fame” is appropriate for ages 5 to 105.

The film’s setup is still the same, beginning with auditions and ending with graduation. It uses the major events from the first film, including hotshot Andy Matthews (Cody Longo) taking advantage of an impressionable girl, Jenny Garrison (Kay Panabaker), and the attempted suicide scene. The remake, however, leaves out the abortion and substance abuse.

Marguerite Pomerhn Derricks’ choreography in “Fame” is stunning, its characters are delightful and its moral lessons are refreshing. Each student in “Fame” deals with hardships and perseveres through what they believe are life-ending circumstances. It teaches kids that success takes hard work and you won’t succeed at everything ­— something that, in my opinion, kids need to hear more of these days.

Debbie Allen, who portrayed dance teacher Lydia Grant in the first film and the series, is now a school administrator named Ms. Angela Simms. While Allen played a huge role in the series, her smaller role in both films mirrored each other.

The film does include Allen’s “You’ve got big dreams, you want fame” speech during the opening credits, which will be a reminiscent point for fans of the series. The movie also closes with an updated version of Irene Cara’s 1980 hit single “Fame,” now performed by Naturi Naughton, who played Denise Dupree.

The new movie features an entirely different set of characters, probably an effort to avoid confusion and give the new film its own identity. For obvious reasons, this idea was not a success because the current film chose the same name as the original and some of the characters seem to have been inspired by former ones.

According to boxofficemojo.com, “Fame” ranked third on the charts in its first weekend with more than $10 million gross revenue. Though it has received less than sparkling reviews from other critics, I think you’ll leave the theater with a smile and the theme song stuck in your head for days.



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