Monday, August 6, 2012

Crazy 80's Project: Fame

"I'm gonna live forever!" cries a euphoric troupe of artistic high school kids during the chorus of Fame's legendary title song. Who would have guessed that 30 years later, even after an audience-pandering, dumbed-down, sanitized remake that this original easily takes a diarrhea dump on, Fame still feels as alive and relevant as it ever did? Starting with a ballsy script focusing evenly on a good dozen character, which, in its best moments, feels Altmanesque, Fame feels far more mature than nearly every high school film made before or after it. From the way the film lends credibility and urgency to the problems facing these teenagers, it's easy to see Fame's influence on the Brat Pack movies (most notably The Breakfast Club) later on in the 80's. But this maturity also contributes to the film's biggest weakness. Unlike The Breakfast Club, the problems plaguing these teens, revealed in long, dramatic monologues, are decidedly situations most teens will find hard to relate to. And to make things even more unrelatable, director Alan Parker films these monologues in highly self-conscious long takes, trying to make them High Art. Sure, this may make Fame more intriguing to adult audience members who aren't interested in the "petty" concerns of teens, but it takes the film out of its natural environment. A shame, really, as Fame thrives in this environment, appearing against all odds to live forever. B+

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