Fame Movie Review: The New Incarnation Sanitizes Tennage Life

Gone are Leroy’s cornrows, short-shorts, and leg warmers: The anodyne adolescents in 25-year-old Kevin Tancharoen’s directorial debut (written by Allison Burnett) suggest not the charismatic, street-smart pupils at Performing Arts, but the Up with People squares.

Like all good drama queens, the students in Alan Parker’s 1980 original Fame TV show take up space (blocking traffic on West 46th Street) and disrespect authority (dropping f-bombs in class, smashing school property) They also do drugs, have sex (and abortions, if necessary), and stay up past midnight.

The new class at P.A. is strictly PG, sharing a chummy coffee with the vocal instructor (Megan Mullally) who takes them on a karaoke field trip to Lucky Cheng’s, where not one drag queen is visible. Though his gayness was awkwardly shoehorned in, carrot-topped Montgomery was at least undeniably out in Parker’s film. His closest analogue—many of the kids in the remake are race and/or gender inversions of the original characters—merely alludes to homo-leanings through emo, Efron-esque bangs and a slightly swish carriage.

Members of the class of ’80 struggled to stay in school despite homelessness and crime; the greatest crisis in ’09 finds a student’s Sesame Street work-schedule affecting her GPA. The sanitized moppets in the new Fame sing the body generic.

 
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