Friday, August 21, 2009

Baby, remember my name

The latest remake of Fame leaves me with many questions. Is it based on the movie, the stage show, the TV show, or is it just a bunch of kids at a performing arts school with a couple of the more recognizable songs crammed in there? Is it still set at the New York High School of Performing Arts, and if so, does it take place in the 80s, since the NYHSoPA was folded into LaGuardia High School a quarter century ago, and I don't see any painters in the trailer? And perhaps most importantly, what on earth is the point of remaking a movie that's less than 30 years old? I mean, the clothing may be violently late 70s, but the film's central thesis isn't exactly dated beyond recognition.

It's not that I'm in love with the original Fame. I've actually always found it rather boring. But I'm so very baffled by this new one! And vaguely concerned by the veneer of glitz they seem to be laying over it, when the original Fame was more about laying bare the hardwork and agonies of performing - not about the stage, but about the memorization, the vocal scales, the exercises at the barre, the blood, sweat, and tears that go into that fleeting chance to, as the song says, live forever. It's not sparkly.

I am pleased by the cast. Bebe Neuwirth and Debbie Allen are rightfully living legends, Kesley Grammer is an inspired choice, and Megan Mullally will probably surprise quite a few people with her pipes. As far as the kids go: Asher Book is the perfectly acceptable frontman of the fairly decent boy band V Factory, and from what I can tell from snippets of the soundtrack, he is at least vocally pretty much perfect for the part I suspect he's playing (regardless of the version, Fame always seems to have a skinny neurotic white boy actor, although if that's him with the guitar in the poster he may have just thrown my theory out the window). Kay Panabaker (or Little Panabaker, as we call her) has appeared on various Disney Channel stuff, and although our hearts belong to her older sister (Big (Danielle) Panabaker, star of our beloved Sky High), we're down with all Panabakers as a rule. Anna Maria Perez de Tagle (you probably should've shortened the stage name, hon) plays a bitchy sidekick (poorly) in Hannah Montana and a bitchy sidekick (poorly) in Camp Rock. Let's see if she can actually act off a decent script (assuming this movie has a decent script)! Finally, Bitchy Dance Goddess is played by Kherington of So You Think You Can Dance Season 4, who wasn't our favorite, but at least we know she can dance, which is not always the case in these kinds of movies, Zac Efron.

So cast-wise I am cautiously optimistic. But...listen to those soundtrack snippets again, or at least the second and last ones, the snippets of the title song. "Fame" is not a laidback, groovy dance tune. It is not cool. It is not patient. It is an explosion of ambition and joy and excitement, of dancing on taxis and demanding attention. It is this:

I don't care what you do to the plot, NewFame, but give me that uncontrollable longing bursting out of every student in that school, or you and I will have some very harsh words.

1 comment:

Ryan W. Mead said...

I am awaiting the inevitable mashup between the new version of the title song and "I Kissed A Girl." They sound pretty much the same.

And any mention of the film can't help make me think of the following piece of dialogue from the Animaniacs spoof of "A Hard Day's Night" (which seems to be inspired by the similar dialogue from the actual film, "What would you call that hairstyle you're wearing?" "Arthur"):

"What's the best thing about fame?"
"The part where Irene Cara dances on the car."