Films on Planes part 2: Fame (2009)

Recently, Film Buff employee and blog contributor Dropkick went on a trip to a far away land. Whilst traveling to and fro he experienced the best of what in-flight entertainment has to offer. This is part two of an ongoing series that focuses on cinema of the sky.

Flight: Miami to Bogota
Film: Fame
Director: Kevin Tancharoen
Class: Business (nothing less)
Drink: Champagne, Mimosa, Bloody Mary
Meal: Steak
Fame... I'm going to live forever. I'm going to learn how to fly... high...

Hot on the heels of Hollywood's reboot fever comes Fame; a remake of the 1980 film that became a cultural phenomena that spawned a successful television series as well as a stage musical.
Funny how with the current state of cinema you could tell this one was coming from a mile a way but while watching it i couldn't help but feel that this Fame showed up late to its own party.
This film should have came out circa 2006 or 2007 nearing the end of the 80's revival that took most of the 00's by storm.

Out of all the flicks i caught in the sky this was the only one i watched the entirety of... god knows why. I think it was mostly because i was in awe of how horribly written and paced the film was, i had to keep watching to know if it could actually keep it up during its complete run time. Unsurprisingly it somehow got worse as the show went on.

The film follows various performing art students over four years as they attend an NYC school that prepares its students for careers in dancing, acting, singing, film-making, etc. etc. There is no central character here, instead the focus veers between a group of say... 10 or so students... all of which have their own trials and tribulations to go through. Somehow each story is cliche and predictable, some of the 10 or so stories are even slight variants of each other.
Let's see... we got the naive nice girl from a small town who has come to the big city in hopes to be famous but ends up learning the true price of FAME, there's the violin player who really just wants to sing but has the biggest assholes of parents who apparently want nothing less then to see their daughter sing and achieve FAME ... if only to make her cry alot, then we have the geeky funny movie nerd who gets scammed out of thousands by a bogus producing company as he's trying to claim his FAME by way of making a short film , we have the hot dancer whose parents are also assholes but she must learn to go her own way to reach that FAME and balance a relationship at the same time.
ok what else?... oh the poor kid from the ghetto whose angry and must learn to control his rage and not let FAME make him lose his cool... and other stories just like these.
Now perhaps if the film cut the fat and focused on say, four students then it wouldn't feel like such a mess.
There's so much happening at once that some character archs are given only a few minutes of attention... say like the "funny" gay dancer boy who is told by his instructor that he's never going to achieve FAME as a dancer so he tries to commit suicide. So little time and care is put into this dramatic moment (probably the most dramatic moment of the film) that this too little too late attempt to grip you falls on blind eyes and besides, at this point you're on your third bloody mary and thinking "what's the point?".

The film covers all the teenage drivel bases but it's done in such a half assed way you wonder if you're watching an after school special or an outtake reel from Strangers With Candy. For instance, when it gets to the issue of alcohol abuse there is only one scene that tries to approach the subject wherein a girl is drinking for the first time on some New York corner while the film geek videotapes the act. They make her drink a whole mickey of peach schnapps to herself. She sings some inane familiar thing and then promptly after, vomits all over the street. The scene cuts to the video being shown at school where a classroom full of students have a big chuckle at her expense. Even the teacher is amused by it! The teacher says something along the lines of "that's very funny but remember drinking is irresponsible" and the girl replies "don't worry i'll never drink again"... YEAH RIGHT. The damn film geek just unleashed the beast, she's screwed for life now.
What kind of brain dead message is that? Just get drunk one time kiddies, and have your friends videotape it and put it on youtube... then you'll never drink again. . Gimme a break. Abstinence by way of public humiliation.

Anyways, unlike the original there's barely any singing or dance sequences. There's one long dance number that's very unclassy, oddly placed, and poorly scored.
What else?.... Oh! All the teachers are played by noticeable TV sitcom actors... two of which are from Cheers.
Part of me wants to say "wasted opportunity" as if this flick could have conveyed something worthwhile but all i have to say is WASTE OF TIME. The filmmakers here try to revive a dead horse by injecting it with generation WTF attitude but just like the generation it tries to appeal to it's brain dead.

When the film started i calmed myself by thinking that at least, at some point in the film the title song FAME would be played. It's a catchy tune... so i looked forward to it. Whenever someone would start singing i would get excited "is this it!?... damn." So i kept watching wondering when the song would finally drop. When it came to the graduation scene at the end of the film i was ecstatic "SURELY THEY'RE GOING TO SING FAME NOW!!!!"
but alas... they did not. Instead they sang some high school musical b-side. It wasn't until during the credit roll did they FINALLY play the song... and then it was some hipped hopped version of it, not even the original.
So i reclined my chair all the way back gazed out the window overlooking South America and sang softly to myself
"I'm gonna make it to heaven. Light up the sky like a flame. FAME!
I'm gonna live forever. Baby, Remember my name..."


the coelacanth said...

well, i guess someone had to watch this...

Anonymous said...

Awesome review buddy! Funny and well written. Love the little set up at the beginning. Looking forward to the next two.

La Sporgenza said...

Yikes.... sounds dreadful.